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Observe hygiene rules when preparing poultry meat!

26/2006, 12.09.2006

Following a nationwide outbreak of disease caused by Salmonella hadar, BfR renews its recommendation to consumers

Since May 2006 more than 100 cases of salmonellosis have been reported to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) which were caused by Salmonella (S.) hadar. Two people died from their illness. The previous year the number of cases was far lower. RKI and BfR are working together with the Federal Office of Consumer Protection and Food Safety (BVL) and the federal states to establish what caused this outbreak. All the same, the reasons for the increased incidence of foodborne infections could not be fully identified up to now. S. hadar is mainly found in poultry flocks and has been detected in the past in particular in meat and meat products from turkeys and chickens. In principle, in order to avoid foodborne infections special attention to hygiene is important when preparing raw poultry meat. As grilling of poultry meat is popular in the summer months, care should be taken to ensure that the meat is sufficiently heated when cooked this way, too. Furthermore, any contamination of other food by the raw meat or the liquid in which the meat was marinated should be avoided particularly as Salmonella can multiply rapidly in inadequately chilled food in summer.

Investigations by the official food control authorities show that raw poultry meat and poultry meat products - even the frozen products - may be contaminated with pathogens. In 2005 Salmonella were found in around one-tenth of the poultry meat samples examined and Campylobacter bacteria in one in three samples. For that reason the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment repeats its recommendations on the handling and preparation of poultry meat and poultry meat products.

It is true that bacteria like Salmonella and Campylobacter are killed during the preparation of poultry meat as long as the correspondingly high temperatures are reached during cooking. However, other foods can be contaminated with these pathogens through transmission of these bacteria on the hands, kitchen devices and surfaces. If these contaminated foods are not reheated prior to consumption, they may pose a threat to health. As Salmonella can multiply at temperatures above 7°C in foods, there is a special risk linked to the consumption of foods which are stored unrefrigerated for longer periods like salads and desserts.

That’s why the following general hygiene rules should be strictly observed when preparing raw poultry meat:

  • Store and prepare poultry products and other foods separately, particularly when the latter are not going to be reheated
  • Store fresh poultry meat at a maximum temperature of +4 °C and consume before expiry of the use-by date
  • Thaw frozen poultry meat without its packaging in the fridge
  • Carefully dispose of the packaging material and thaw water immediately
  • Clean any devices and surfaces that have come into contact with raw poultry products or thaw water with warm water and washing-up liquid before using them again
  • Wash hands thoroughly with warm water and soap between the individual preparation stages
  • Cook poultry meat until a core temperature of at least +70 °C is achieved and all the meat is white in colour. This also applies to grilled meat.

Further information on the right way to handle poultry meat can be accessed on our website ( in German under FAQ/Frequently asked questions about the hygienic handling of poultry meat.