How to Avoid Harmful Bacteria in Store-bought Chicken

The Consumer Reports publication of findings that nearly 2/3rd of commercial uncooked chicken carry harmful bacteria prompts us to ask: What can we do about our chicken?  For those of us who are not about to give up eating it, here are some practices you should follow at home:

#1 Tip: You MUST cook your chicken to at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit.  Use a thermometer to check.  Even if the meat is no longer pink, it may not be cooked enough to kill Salmonella or  campylobacter bacteria. Also observe these practices:

You want to avoid the juices of uncooked chicken. Avoid them on your counter-top, in your refrigerator, in your life.  So:

  • At the supermarket, choose the one well-wrapped, at the bottom of the case where its the coolest
  • Make it the last thing you pickup and put in your basket before heading to the checkout line, so it keeps coldest
  • Put it in its own plastic baggie at the supermarket, then keep it in the plastic bag in the fridge.
  • If it’ll be cooked within a couple of days, store it at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below.  Otherwise, freeze it.
  • Thaw frozen chicken in the fridge, inside its packaging, inside the bag, dont thaw it on the counter.
  • Dont return cooked meat to the plate that held it raw.
  • Refrigerate or freeze within 2 hours of cooking.

These steps should keep you safe.  Remember, the safest chickens are organic, “air-chilled” variety.  More details in this article.

More information, how to take action:

Bell & Evans brand “air-chilled” chickens

S.T.O.P. – Safe Tables Our Priority is a national, nonprofit, public health organization dedicated to preventing illness and death from foodborne pathogens.  Good information. – Taking action on safe foods and products.

Questions and comments are welcome!

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Salmonella, Campylobacter bacteria persist in supermarket chickens

Consumer Reports magazine, in their January 2010 featured article reports that the most contaminated big brands are Tyson and Foster Farms, where 80% tested positive for one or both bacteria!  Overall the cleanest are the “air-chilled” brands.

Consumer Reports has been measuring contamination in store-bought chickens since 1988.  In this latest round, an outside lab tested 382 chickens bought from more than 100 supermarkets, natural food stores, and mass merchandisers in twenty-two states.  They tested top brands such as Tyson, Foster Farms, and Perdue as well as 30 other non-organic store brands, and 9 organic brands.  Of the 9 organic brands, 5 were “air-chilled.” (A process that happens in the slaughterhouse where the newly killed chickens are refrigerated, maybe misted, rather than kept in cold chlorinated water.)

Some of the findings:

  • Campylobacter bacteria was in 62% of the chickens
  • Salmonella bacteria was in 14% of the chickens
  • 34% were clear of both bacteria, in 2003 they reported that 51% were clear of both!
  • Store brand organic chicken had no Salmonella, but 57% did had Campylobacter
  • 68% of Salmonella, and 60% of Campylobacter bacterias showed resistance to one or more antibiotics
  • Overall cleanest were the “air-chilled” brands.  Only around 40% had one or both pathogens, which still sucks
  • One of these air-chilled brands that did well was Bell & Evans

Why is this study important? Because each year, Salmonella and Campylobacter bacteria from chicken and other foods infect 3.4 million Americans, send 25500 to hospitals, and kill about 500!  Many never get seen by health professionals.

Both bacteria can cause nausea, fever, vomiting, abdominal pain, headaches, and lead to the need for hospitalization.  Campylobacter especially can be fatal.

What can you do?  The main thing to keep in mind is that cooking the chicken to at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit is thought to kill the bacteria.  The safest thing to do is have a cooking thermometer and check your chicken.

You should also keep the juices of the uncooked chicken away from your hands, the counter, and other places that you can come in contact with.

Check out our companion article: How to avoid harmful bacteria from chicken.

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Reiki Clinic Now at BayTree

Reiki is a simple and natural healing method using the universal life force energy that exists in all living things. If our life force energy is low, one is more prone to fatigue, stress, and illness. When the natural flow of this energy is increased during a session, the chakras and energy channels are cleared and brought into alignment, increasing the body’s self healing abilities and allowing one to feel a sense of deep relaxation and wellbeing.

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Top fish to eat

Fish as health food has been in the spotlight for a while now.  The latest articles all talk about fish as a great source of healthy oils.   But then, you hear all this stuff about how all the waters are so polluted now with mercury, and you have to avoid bottom-dwellers?? There’s a lot of information to reconcile.  Here I give you my take.

On top of inherent risks of eating polluted fish, there are the various problems that we humans are causing the fish population.  Much of the fish we enjoy eating are overfished. In the U.S., 80% of seafood is imported to meet the demand.  Consumer choices fuel, if not trigger the destructive fishing and fish farming practices.

Here are two resources that I’d like to share with you to help with selecting what fish to buy and eat, followed by my top fish to eat list.

First one is the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program.  Part of their mission is to encourage consumers and businesses to purchase seafood that is fished or farmed in ways that don’t harm the environment. How do they do this?  Their recommendations are science-based, peer reviewed, and use ecosystem-based criteria.

Please make sure to visit the Seafood Watch Program website to get more info, and of course their lists of best fish, best alternatives, and Must Avoids!

The second resource is Green America, a good resource for a variety of green-related information.  Specifically, they have their own fish lists which related to health.   This is the website for their Safe Seafood Wallet list, make sure to visit it because again there is info on best fish, best alternatives, and make sure to avoids!

Both their lists are great resources of information and you can see that their top-fish lists are somewhat different.  Here I list common fish between the two.

List of Top Fish to Eat, with respect to health and eco-considerations:

  • Clams
  • Dungeness crab
  • Lobster (spiny/rock)
  • Oysters
  • Salmon (wild, alaskan)
  • sardines (pacific, US)
  • Scallops, Bay (farmed)
  • Shrimp, white and US farmed
  • Tilapia, US farmed

I hope you found this article useful.  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Article by Afshin Mokhtari, Acupuncturist at BayTree Wellness Center.  You can read more of Afshin’s articles at his site:  You can reach afshin via email on our  Locations page.

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What to do about a Nosebleed!

Ever useful onion

Ever useful onion

How do you stop a bleeding nose?  A good subject for my first BayTree Wellness Center post – something that helps folks stay well at home, away from our loving care at BayTree!  Let us know what you think and what other subjects you’d like covered for the future.

Nosebleeds can occur for a variety of reasons and some are not nearly as serious as others.  Trauma and dry air are the main causes.  Blood-thinners, fever, or even nose-picking can also cause it.  Children are especially susceptible.

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