Yes, they do. But not all chickens have the kind of Salmonella that can lead to illness. According to the Center for Disease Control, only 1 out of every 25 chickens sold at grocery stores are infected with Salmonella, which can cause illnesses.
You could get sick if you consume these contaminated chickens, especially if they are not properly cooked. Most times, the juices from contaminated chicken could even spread on your cooking space, causing cross-contamination.
In this article, I will explain further about salmonella in chicken, what causes them, what happens if you eat them, how to spot them, and how to prevent them.
What is Salmonella?
Salmonella is a type of bacteria mostly found in the digestive tract of chickens and other poultry animals. This bacteria is a normal part of the digestive flora and, under normal circumstances, is not dangerous.
Salmonella becomes dangerous when consumed, and this occurs from improper handling of the chicken. It can also occur through cross-contamination and poor hand hygiene, especially when handling feces.
According to the Center for Disease Control, there are over 1.2 million recorded cases caused by Salmonella infection and leads to 450 death cases annually.
How do chickens get Salmonella?
Normally, Salmonella is a part of a chicken’s digestive tract; however, it is not harmful. The dangerous strands are the ones taken into the body by other means, which causes illness. Some of the ways chickens get this type of Salmonella include;
1. Animal feces
Chickens can get infected with salmonella bacteria by coming in contact with other chicken or animal feces. They may step on these feces and spread them all around their living or feeding space.
2. Poor Hygiene
Most times, how the animals are bred is another way in which they are infected with this bacteria. Some farmers, after cleaning the chicken’s living space, neglect washing their hands properly, spreading these bacteria even more.
Most times, Salmonella is passed on to chickens when they are handled by someone with poor hygiene. It could also be passed to them through the water they drink or through their food.
Another way your hygiene may aid the spread of Salmonella is through handling the eggs. Because these eggs come in contact with the digestive tracts of a chicken, their shell may contain this bacteria.
When the farmer handles these eggs and fails to wash his or her hands properly, they may spread even further.
What are the symptoms of Salmonella in live chickens?
If chickens contact this bacteria, it could be deadly for them and may affect you in cases where they are eaten first. Some of the obvious symptoms in live chickens include;
- Increase in taste
- Colored droppings (mostly yellow and green)
- Decreased egg production
- Weight loss.
How can you reduce the risk of salmonella infection in chickens?
If you own a poultry farm or a small homestead farm, some of the best ways to protect your chickens include;
1. Keep a good hygiene
The environment or living space should be cleaned frequently and properly, such as changing the water and cleaning your chicken’s feces.
2. Get rid of rodents
Pest animals such as rats and mine can spread their feces all around the chicken living space. Since their feces are small, they could go unnoticed and infect the environment.
How can you get Salmonella from chickens?
After looking at how chickens come in contact with this bacteria, let us dive into how humans come in contact with them. Some of the most common means include;
1. Undercooked Chicken
The most obvious way for you to become infected with salmonella is by eating raw or undercooked chicken. If chickens are not cooked to the proper recommended temperature, the bacteria in them will not die.
2. Poor hygiene
Because all chicken contains Salmonella, it is ideal to wash your hands thoroughly after handling them. This is to ensure that the juices from the chicken do not come in contact with utensils.
3. Washing chicken
Most people believe that if they wash the chicken more, they reduce the chances of Salmonella. The Center for Disease Control recommends not doing that; this can cause juices from the chicken to spread on other food, surfaces, and utensils.
Remember that all bacteria in the meat will die if you cook it to the safe cooking temperature. So there is no need to wash them further; also, all meat butchering houses are regularly inspected to ensure the meat is handled cleanly.
What are the symptoms of Salmonella in humans?
Some of the possible signs and symptoms of Salmonella include;
- Stomach or abdominal cramp
- Blood in stool.
How to treat Salmonella?
Most times, they do not require treatment, and the symptoms stay for around a week. However, if symptoms persist, you should seek the doctor’s opinion.
How can you prevent or reduce the risk of Salmonella?
Although the Center for Disease Control is taking measure to ensure that poultry meat is properly tested before they are taken for sale. You also have a part to play in other to prevent or reduce the risk of this bacterial infection.
Some steps you can take include;
1. Avoid eating raw or undercooked chicken
You must ensure you cook your chicken till all bacteria present in them die. The USDA recommends cooking chicken and other poultry meat to an internal temperature of 650 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Wash your hands
Washing your hands is a crucial step to preventing the spread of Salmonella. Immediately after coming in contact with raw poultry meat, you should wash your hand properly.
Washing your hands under running water for 20 seconds would help prevent the transfer of this bacteria to your mouth or other surfaces.
3. Keep things separate
This is key as it helps prevent salmonella infection. To prevent Cross-contamination, always ensure you;
- Store raw poultry far from other foodstuffs or ingredients.
- Never place cooked food on a plate or bowl that previously held raw meat.
- If possible, ensure you use a different chopping board for cutting raw meat.
- Always clean surfaces the meat comes in contact with soap and water.
Does cooking chicken kill Salmonella?
Yes, it does. Boiling the chicken to the same cooking temperature (165 degrees Fahrenheit) kills all bacteria present in them.
Can Salmonella be found elsewhere?
Yes, they can. They are also found on raw meat and raw eggs because they come in contact with this Salmonella before they are hatched.
Should you eat raw chicken?
No, you should not. Raw chicken or poultry has been associated with a number of health conditions.
Conclusion: Does all chicken have salmonella?
All chicken has salmonella in their digestive tract. But not all Salmonella found in the chicken are harmful; only 1 in 25 packages of chicken contain the harmful Salmonella, as per the Center for Disease Control.
Although, there are measures put in place to ensure the safety of chickens around the world. It is best for you to follow the steps listed in this article to help prevent or reduce the risk of this bacterial infection.
I hope you enjoyed this article, if you did, you should also see if eating chicken everyday is bad.
Thank you for reading this article.