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How can I tell if chicken meat I bought at the grocery store has Salmonella? - Nathan N, AB
Hi Ashley, thanks for your question. Like humans, chickens have different kinds of naturally occurring bacteria in their gut. In chickens, one of those types of bacteria is called Salmonella. People who eat food contaminated by certain strains of Salmonella can become ill with salmonellosis—although, not all Salmonella will make you sick. Poultry processing plants do a lot of work to prevent Salmonella contamination of chicken meat, but nothing can ever be 100 per cent effective. Luckily, any Salmonella bacteria that might have transferred onto raw chicken meat is killed when chicken is cooked properly. You can find more information on Salmonella and salmonellosis on the Public Heath Agency of Canada’s website. For resources on preparing, cooking and storing chicken safely, check out our easy guide to Chicken and Food Safety, and browse our Chicken School for more food safety information.
I heard that chicken nuggets and burgers are made from old birds that can’t lay eggs anymore – this is called spent fowl. How do I know if I am purchasing this product?
Just curious, what’s the difference between ‘free range’ chickens and ‘free run’? Thanks! - Alyssa P, ON
Hi Alyssa, thanks for your question. There are no legal definitions for “free run” or “free range,” but generally “free run” means the chickens can move around freely within the barn. All chickens raised for fresh meat in Canada are considered free run. The term “free range” broadly refers to poultry that has been permitted to graze or forage outdoors.
What does “seasoned” or “seasoning” mean when it comes to chicken? How can I tell?
You want to be sure you’re getting the product that’s right for you and your family. Sometimes, red meat and chicken products are labelled with the word ‘seasoned’ somewhere on the packaging – or you’ll hear an advertisement where a restaurant features a “100% seasoned chicken breast”. If you’re wondering what this means, we have the explanation for you.
You can “season” a chicken product by adding spice, flavoring or rub. But what about a product that is labeled “seasoned” and does not have a spice or a rub on it.
When it comes to meat (chicken or otherwise), the word ‘seasoned’ means the meat has been processed using a mixture of salt, water and/or sodium phosphate and sometimes, flavoring. This is done to allow the product to retain some of its moisture when it’s being cooked. The sodium phosphate binds the water molecules to the protein in the meat, allowing it to keep some of the moisture within it.
There are different perspectives on seasoning – some people prefer seasoned chicken meat, while others prefer to have a more basic product that they can use in their recipes.
Seasoning can raise the sodium count within the product and may be a concern if you’re worried about sodium intake. A ‘seasoned’ product will have to be labelled as such.
If you’re concerned about sodium intake, read your labels and bear in mind that the lower the protein percentage, the higher the ‘seasoning’ solution (and the higher the sodium count).
What is Air-Chilled Chicken?
More and more, retailers and restaurants are offering “Air-Chilled Chicken” to consumers. What is air-chilling, exactly? Here’s the simple answer:
Chicken is either air-chilled or water-chilled the moment it is killed at the processing plant. For safety, the most important thing is to immediately get the temperature of the chicken down to a safe level so that the rest of the process can be done.
Either the chicken is placed in a cold water bath to do this (water-chilling), or it has cold air blown onto it (air-chilling).