How Can I Prevent Food Poisoning from Poultry?

Madeleine A.
Madeleine A.
Hands should be thoroughly washed before and after handling poultry.
Hands should be thoroughly washed before and after handling poultry.

Food poisoning from poultry may be prevented by thoroughly cooking the poultry, washing hands after handling the poultry, storing poultry at a cold enough temperature in the refrigerator, and keeping raw poultry from coming in contact with other foods. In addition, making sure that frozen poultry is thoroughly defrosted before cooking it and storing leftover cooked poultry in small containers in the refrigerator may also reduce the risk of food poisoning from poultry.

A Salmonella bacterium, a common cause of food poisoning.
A Salmonella bacterium, a common cause of food poisoning.

Food poisoning from poultry can occur when a cutting board used with the meat isn't properly cleaned. Using poultry with after the product's expiration date or eating food that has been contaminated with uncooked poultry juices can cause food poisoning as well. In addition, washing the poultry prior to use can actually increase the risk of food poisoning by spreading the juices around food preparation and kitchen areas.

Cutting boards must be sanitized after coming in contact with raw poultry.
Cutting boards must be sanitized after coming in contact with raw poultry.

Types of bacteria commonly involved with food poisoning from poultry include salmonella and campylobacter. These organisms can also be found in unpasteurized mild, eggs, and red meat. Although food poisoning from poultry can be serious, the risk can be dramatically reduced when proper safety precautions are put into place. Very young children should avoid helping their parents prepare chicken or turkey because they may be more prone to food poisoning if they put their unwashed hands in their mouth or touch their eyes.

Kitchen tools like knives and scissors should be washed after touching raw poultry.
Kitchen tools like knives and scissors should be washed after touching raw poultry.

Symptoms of food poisoning from poultry include abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and sometimes fever. In addition, symptoms can be mild or severe and in extreme cases, hospitalization may be needed to replace fluids lost through vomiting and diarrhea. Failure to replace lost fluids can result in dehydration and may even be life threatening.

Food poisoning from poultry may cause an upset stomach and vomiting.
Food poisoning from poultry may cause an upset stomach and vomiting.

Typically, treatment for uncomplicated food poisoning from poultry includes home remedies, such as drinking plenty of fluids and resting. In addition, sports drinks may be helpful to replace fluids and electrolytes that have been lost through diarrhea and vomiting. When symptoms persist or worsen, the physician may need to prescribe a course of antibiotics. Since food poisoning occurs as the result of an infectious bacterial organism, antibiotics are generally very effective in treating it.

Usually, a bout with food poisoning only lasts a few days. In people who are very young, very old, have predisposing medical conditions, or have a depressed immune system, it can last for weeks, however. In addition, these people have higher risks of complications when they contract a food-borne illness, such as multiple organ failure, seizures, and profound dehydration.

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    • Hands should be thoroughly washed before and after handling poultry.
      Hands should be thoroughly washed before and after handling poultry.
    • A Salmonella bacterium, a common cause of food poisoning.
      A Salmonella bacterium, a common cause of food poisoning.
    • Cutting boards must be sanitized after coming in contact with raw poultry.
      Cutting boards must be sanitized after coming in contact with raw poultry.
    • Kitchen tools like knives and scissors should be washed after touching raw poultry.
      Kitchen tools like knives and scissors should be washed after touching raw poultry.
    • Food poisoning from poultry may cause an upset stomach and vomiting.
      Food poisoning from poultry may cause an upset stomach and vomiting.