Undercooked chicken products can lead to illness

By Tom Nordlie • Published: January 12th, 2009
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

After ten minutes in the microwave, your frozen chicken cordon bleu is only lukewarm.

But you’re starving.

Should you dig in?

No way, not unless you want to risk a case of food poisoning that’ll have you singing the chicken cordon blues.

According to a U-S Department of Agriculture news release, last October more than thirty people were sickened by Salmonella bacteria lurking in improperly cooked frozen chicken entrees.

The culprits were stuffed chicken dishes filled with cheese, vegetables or other items. They included chicken cordon bleu and chicken Kiev.

Why the problem?

Unlike many frozen foods, these products contain raw chicken. For that reason, they’re supposed to be cooked in a conventional oven, not a microwave.

What’s more, they’re often coated with toasted breadcrumbs, which can give unwary diners the impression the entire dish is fully cooked.

So the U-S-D-A urges consumers to follow package directions in preparing these gourmet treats.

They must be heated to a minimum internal temperature of one-hundred-sixty-five degrees Fahrenheit to kill harmful bacteria.

That means using a food thermometer, and, if necessary, putting the dish back in the oven for a few more minutes of cooking.

Those precautions may be inconvenient, but so is a case of Salmonella poisoning, which can involve a week’s worth of vomiting, diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps.

So the next time hunger pangs tempt you to cut corners in the kitchen, play it smart.

Give bacteria the cold shoulder by turning up the heat on your dinner.