Doneness in cooking chicken may not ensure safety from pathogens

May 04, 2020
Roast Chicken

CHICKEN can harbor the bacterial pathogens Salmonella and Campylobacter. High temperatures can kill these microbes, but enough may survive to cause illness if meat is undercooked.

Chefs and cooks have their own techniques for judging doneness of chicken and certain methods do not ensure that pathogens are reduced to safe levels. This can be true in roasting chicken in electric or fire grill.

The analysis indicated that checking the inner color of chicken meat is a popular way to judge doneness. Other common methods include examining meat texture or juice color.

However, in one study, researchers conducted laboratory experiments to test various techniques for judging doneness, and these demonstrated that color and texture are not reliable indicators of safety on their own: for example, the inner color of chicken changes at a temperature too low to sufficiently inactivate pathogens.

The use of thermometers is recommended to judge doneness, but the researchers found that the surface of chicken meat may still harbor live pathogens after the inside is cooked sufficiently.

These findings suggest a need for updated recommendations that guarantee safety while accounting for consumers' habits and desire to avoid overcooked chicken.

They found that the use of a food thermometer or checking that the juices run clear to make sure that the chicken is cooked safely -- are not safe, not based on scientific evidence.

They suggest that consumers should check that all surfaces of the meat are cooked, as most bacteria are present on the surface. People should also check the core. When the core meat is fibrous and not glossy, it has reached a safe temperature.

For now, the researchers recommend focusing on the color and texture of the thickest part of the meat, as well as ensuring that all surfaces reach sufficient temperatures. (PLOS/ScienceDaily)