Salmonella and Campylobacter are two bacteria that can be passed on from animal to humans by the ingestion of infected meat, especially chicken. The scientific literature is long and complex but it can be broken down into 1) keep a clean kitchen and 2) cook your chicken thoroughly. Chicken just isn’t among the meats that can be served rare or medium rare.
Thaw frozen chicken in the fridge, not the kitchen counter
Why? Because once the temperature of chicken goes above 4°C (40°F) as it is likely to if left on the kitchen counter, bacteria start to grow. So, it is safer to thaw frozen chicken in the fridge and make sure that the temperature of the fridge is below 4°C (40°F).
Should you rinse chicken before cooking?
Many cooks say raw chicken shouldn’t be rinsed before cooking lest the sink, prep area and other parts of the kitchen be contaminated with the bacteria called Campylobacter. Campylobacter can cause diarrhea and abdominal pain, and children and old people are more at risk.
I rinse chicken before cooking. Why? Third World blues.
Native chicken sold in wet markets are displayed on trays sans cover. In most cases, the chickens are pre-cut into thighs/legs, wings, breast, neck and feet. Buyers are allowed to handle the meat to choose the pieces that they like.
Chicken produced by big companies are often sold whole in vacuum packaging. There is an exception though.These companies sell wholesale to groceries and wet markets which have the option of selling the chickens whole in sealed and branded packaging or to retail them in much the same way as native chicken — displayed openly on trays and pre-cut into portions. In better groceries, tongs are provided so that customers don’t touch the chicken with their hands. Not so in wet markets.
Given those conditions, why wouldn’t I rinse chicken before cooking?
And what about Campylobacter? Just keep a clean kitchen, period. Be mindful of droplets and splashes caused by handling, chopping or cutting your chicken. Wipe, wipe and wipe even while prepping.