Chicken has always been a staple food in diets around the world as they are rich in protein and other essential nutrients. However, over the years, there have been concerns about chicken causing illnesses such as food poisoning, and one common bacteria found in chicken that causes such is Escherichia coli or E. Coli. In this article, we will explore whether you can get E. Coli from chicken and what you need to know to avoid falling ill.
What is E. Coli?
Escherichia coli (E. Coli) is a type of bacteria that is naturally found in the intestines of humans and animals. There are different strains of E. Coli, some of which are harmless and others that can cause illnesses such as food poisoning. One such strain is the E. Coli O157:H7, which is often associated with contaminated meat and can lead to severe health complications such as kidney failure.
How Does E. Coli Get into Chicken?
Chickens can get infected with E. Coli in various ways, such as through exposure to contaminated soil, water, or feces. The bacteria can also be present in the feathers, intestines, and meat of infected chickens. Contamination can also occur during processing, such as from the equipment or the hands of the food handlers.
Can You Get E. Coli from Chicken?
Yes, it is possible to get E. Coli from chicken if the chicken is contaminated with the bacteria. Eating raw or undercooked chicken that is contaminated with E. Coli is especially risky as the bacteria are not killed during cooking. Also, cross-contamination can happen when raw chicken comes into contact with other foods that are eaten raw, such as salads or fruits, which can lead to infection.
Symptoms of E. Coli Infection
Symptoms of E. Coli infection can range from mild to severe and usually begin between two and five days after exposure to the bacteria. The symptoms include:
- Stomach cramps
- Diarrhea which may be bloody
- Nausea and vomiting
- Loss of appetite
- Mild fever
Most people recover from E. Coli infection within a week without treatment. However, in rare cases, the infection can lead to severe health complications such as kidney failure, especially in young children, older adults, and people with weakened immune systems.
How to Prevent E. Coli Infection from Chicken?
Here are some ways to prevent E. Coli infection from chicken:
Practice Good Hygiene
Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water before and after handling raw chicken. This helps to prevent the spread of E. Coli and other bacteria. Also, make sure to clean cutting boards, utensils, and countertops with hot soapy water after handling raw chicken.
Cook Chicken Thoroughly
Cook chicken to an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C) to kill any harmful bacteria that may be present, including E. Coli. Use a food thermometer to ensure that the chicken is cooked to the appropriate temperature.
Store Chicken Properly
Store chicken in the refrigerator below 40°F (4°C) and use it within two days of purchase. Also, make sure to cook or freeze chicken within two days of purchasing it.
Do not allow raw chicken to come into contact with other foods that are eaten raw, such as salads or fruits. Also, make sure to use separate cutting boards, utensils, and containers for raw chicken and other food items to avoid cross-contamination.
E. Coli is a type of bacteria that can cause food poisoning, and it can be present in contaminated chicken meat. However, by practicing good hygiene, cooking chicken thoroughly, storing it properly, and avoiding cross-contamination, you can minimize the risk of E. Coli infection from chicken.
Most Common Questions and Answers
- Q: What is E. coli?
- A: Escherichia coli (E. Coli) is a type of bacteria that is naturally found in the intestines of humans and animals.
- Q: How does E. Coli get into chicken?
- A: Chickens can get infected with E. Coli in various ways, such as through exposure to contaminated soil, water, or feces.
- Q: Can you get E. Coli from chicken?
- A: Yes, it is possible to get E. Coli from chicken if the chicken is contaminated with the bacteria.
- Q: What are the symptoms of E. Coli infection?
- A: Symptoms of E. Coli infection include stomach cramps, diarrhea which may be bloody, nausea and vomiting, loss of appetite, and mild fever.
- Q: How to prevent E. Coli infection from chicken?
- A: Practice good hygiene, cook chicken thoroughly, store it properly, and avoid cross-contamination.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Escherichia coli (E. Coli). https://www.cdc.gov/ecoli/general/index.html. Accessed 25 Apr. 2021.
- Food Safety and Inspection Service. Safe Minimum Internal Temperature Chart. https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/food-safety-education/get-answers/food-safety-fact-sheets/safe-food-handling/safe-minimum-internal-temperature-chart/ct_index. Accessed 25 Apr. 2021.
- SafeBee. How to Prevent E. Coli From Contaminating Your Kitchen & Food. https://www.safebee.com/food/how-prevent-e-coli-contaminating-your-kitchen-food. Accessed 25 Apr. 2021.