One of the first things I would like to discuss before cooking is the importance of preparing your chicken safely, even before you look at the recipe. I look at a lot of cooking shows and I am very concerned that many of the chefs and cooks take their meat straight out of the packaging, and proceed to cook without prepping the meat. By prepping the meat, I mean taking the time to cleanse and wash the meat before cooking.

According to the USDA, United States Department of Agriculture Food and Safety Inspection Service website, following are some of the bacteria associated with chicken:

  • Salmonella Enteritidis may be found in the intestinal tracts of livestock, poultry, dogs, cats and other warm-blooded animals. This strain is only one of about 2,000 kinds of Salmonella bacteria; it is often associated with poultry and shell eggs.
  • Staphylococcus aureus can be carried on human hands, in nasal passages, or in throats. The bacteria are found in foods made by hand and improperly refrigerated, such as chicken salad.
  • Campylobacter jejuni is one of the most common causes of diarrheal illness in humans. Preventing cross-contamination and using proper cooking methods reduces infection by this bacterium.
  • Listeria monocytogenes was recognized as causing human foodborne illness in 1981. It is destroyed by cooking, but a cooked product can be contaminated by poor personal hygiene. Observe "keep refrigerated" and "use-by" dates on labels.

    Contrary to popular belief, I am an advocate of cleansing and washing your meat, poultry, and seafood as part of the preparation process prior to seasoning and cooking. Some people believe that washing meat, poultry, and seafood will cause cross-contamination. My belief is that washing will prevent cross-contamination if properly done.


    • Before and after handling raw meat, poultry, and seafood, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water.
    • To prevent cross-contamination and spread of bacteria, thoroughly wash and sanitize everything that comes into contact with raw meat, poultry, and seafood, e.g. countertops, sinks, cutting boards, kitchen knives and other utensils, dishes, etc.


    • Remove meat, poultry, or seafood from packaging.
    • Rinse of any liquids retained in packaging.
    • Cut a lime or lemon in half and squeeze the juice all over, including the inside cavity for poultry. Usually, I will use one large lime or lemon per 4-5 pounds of meat or poultry. For seafood, I use a lot less to prevent "cooking" the seafood with the acidity.
    • For meat and poultry, let sit for 15-20 minutes. For seafood, let sit for 2-5 minutes. As a general guideline, two minutes for shrimp and lobster, and five minutes for seafood with a denser texture like king fish steaks.
    • Rinse thoroughly under cold running water until water runs clear.

    The FDA, United States Food and Drug Administration website has recommended the following cooking temperatures for meat, poultry, and seafood. Using a cooking thermometer is useful for correctly gauging the cooking temperature.

    Meat: Cook beef, veal, and lamb roasts and steaks to at least 145° F (63° C).

    Ground Meat:Cook ground beef, veal, lamb, and pork to at least 160° F (71° C). Cook ground poultry to 165° F (74° C).

    Poultry: Cook all poultry to minimal safe internal temperature of 165° F (74° C). Consumers may wish to cook poultry to a higher temperature for personal preference.

    Pork: Cook pork to an internal temperature of 145° F (63° C), with a 3 minute rest time.









    Fresh Limes For Cleansing Meat, Poultry And Seafood
    Credit: Shail Kamini Ramcharan
    Cleansing Chicken With Limes
    Credit: Shail Kamini Ramcharan
    Washing Chicken
    Credit: Shail Kamini Ramcharan
    Chicken For Roasting
    Credit: Shail Kamini Ramcharan