Poultry producers can knowingly sell contaminated product
Thanksgiving is coming up and it's important to know what to do to keep your family safe from food poisoning.
You may already know that undercooked poultry products can be high risk, but did you know that poultry processors could knowingly sell contaminated product?
“Bacteria like salmonella and campylobacter, which are often in raw or undercooked chicken and turkey, are two of the leading causes of bacterial foodborne illness in people,” said Rachel Rabkin Peachman, Consumer Reports investigative reporter.
It's estimated that those two bacteria combined kill about 450 people each year in North America and make nearly 1.9 million people sick, with 28,000 ending up in the hospital.
And poultry processors can legally distribute their products even if they know they may contain harmful bacteria.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency allows 9.8 per cent of tested poultry to have salmonella contamination and the agency says it's currently developing "risk-based targets for raw chicken parts and other products."
However, federally licensed facilities are expected to have controls in place to limit or prevent the commonly found pathogens.
CTV News reached out to poultry producer organizations, including the Poultry Industry Council and Chicken Farmers of Canada.
We were pointed to the regulations provided by the government governing processors and learned that poultry producers do have surveillance and random testing.
Consumer Reports and other safety advocates say limits on contamination are not enough and that there should be a zero-tolerance policy in regulations.
If you're cooking a turkey for Thanksgiving, you need to understand how to handle it safely. There are many opportunities for cross contamination. If you want a fresh bird, order ahead. If you buy a frozen turkey, make sure to thaw it in the fridge, not over other food in case it drips. Estimate about 24 hours for every five pounds. An 18 to 20 pound bird could take three days to thaw in the fridge.
Don't rinse your bird as that could spread contamination. Pat it dry with paper towels, discarding them into the trash and make sure to wash your hands between touching raw meat and anything else.
If you are stuffing your bird, make sure to cook it immediately and test with a thermometer in the thickest part of the breast and thigh to a temperature of 175 degrees Fahrenheit and 165 degrees for unstuffed.
Leftovers? Put them into the fridge right away and if you have any more questions check out ThinkTurkey.ca.