Chicken is more popular than any other protein in the United States. And no wonder — it’s low-calorie, packed with nutrients and absolutely delicious.  While chicken is a tasty, healthy and popular choice, consumers may have questions about food safety. NCC explored this topic this week with a blog post on Chicken Check In. 

The following is the original text from the blog:

Chicken pros are constantly working behind the scenes to keep chickens healthy and well-cared for. From before chicks are hatched, all the way to the grocery store, food safety is always top of mind for chicken producers.  

Our interactive infographic, Food Safety from Farm to Fork, is a treasure trove of colorful illustrations detailing the whole process. Find out how nutritionists and veterinarians provide top-notch care and see how farmers protect the birds from diseases, predators and pests.   

All-Time Lows of Bacteria  

Speaking of food safety, you may have heard about Salmonella. But you might not know that Salmonella is not just a chicken thing. That’s because any raw agricultural product — whether it’s fresh fruit, veggies, meat or poultry — can have naturally occurring bacteria. According to the most recent data from USDA, FDA and CDC, 89 percent of Salmonella illnesses are from non-chicken sources. In fact, levels of Salmonella on raw chicken are at all-time lows. To get all the latest Salmonella stats, take a peep at our Salmonella FAQ.

You can also check out a FAQ on a relatively unknown bacteria called Campylobacter. If you’ve never heard of it, don’t worry, because chicken producers are tackling this one, too. Extensive control measures, from raising chickens all the way to processing them, are specially tailored to both Salmonella and Campylobacter.

These efforts have paid off. Campylobacter has decreased by 43 percent on chicken parts and decreased by 37% on whole chickens in just the past four years.

4 Steps for Food Safety at Home  

Preparing chicken safely is as easy as remembering four simple words — separate, chill, clean, and cook. Just follow these steps and rest assured that your chicken is as safe as it is delicious!

  1. Separate: Avoid cross-contamination by separating raw chicken from other foods in your grocery shopping cart, grocery bags, your kitchen and refrigerator. Use separate cutting boards for raw chicken and other foods.
  2. Chill: Shop for chicken and meat last at the store to keep them cold. When you get home, refrigerate or freeze them right away. Thaw frozen chicken in the fridge— never on the countertop or in cold water.
  3. Clean: Wash your hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds before and after handling raw chicken. Wash cutting boards, dishes, utensils and countertops with hot, soapy water before and after preparing each food item. Just don’t wash the chicken! Rinsing raw chicken can spread bacteria to your sink, countertops and other foods.
  4. Cook: Cook chicken thoroughly. Check that the temperature is at least 165°F in the middle of the chicken with a food thermometer. The color of cooked chicken isn’t a sure sign of its safety, but the temperature is!

Hungry for even more chicken-related food safety information? Check out our new Food Safety Process Video, which gives you way more than a bird’s-eye view into every step of the process: