Food Standards Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ) recently issued an alert to the public about the need to properly cook chicken livers before eating. An outbreak of Campylobacter food poisoning led to the discovery that poultry liver that had been uncooked when consumed presented the problem. The incident highlighted the increased danger presented by poultry liver in recent years in Oz.
The organisation also showed that recently the raw chicken meat in the country was of particular concern, with 85 per cent of the tests conducted showing positive results for campylobacter. It is also especially important that raw foods be handled in a way that does not present cross contamination, particularly chicken livers. All citizens should be aware of the need to cook chicken liver thoroughly before consuming.
Campylobacter is bacteria that produce an inflammatory diarrhoea or dysentery as well as cramps, fever and pain in the sufferer. Usually the bacteria does not present a deadly threat however ensuring that the person does not become dehydrated is important and so water should be consumed and electrolytes lost should be replaced to avoid serious illness. The symptoms usually last only 5 to 7 days and although they may not be deadly, they are very uncomfortable and inconvenient.
When handling raw chicken livers, other foods should be kept separate and food should be protected from bacterial contamination. This occurs when bacteria multiply on foods and make anyone who eats it ill, usually with symptoms of stomach cramps and diarrhoea. The main ways in which food handlers and those involved in the food service industry can do their part in preventing food contamination is by handling food properly, preventing bacteria from multiplying by storing food properly and destroying germs in food by ensuring it is properly cooked.
Food handlers have a responsibility to the public to handle food with care and be aware of the processes that could be dangerous to food and cause it to become contaminated.
This post was published on Hospitalitymagazine.com which highlights the incident:
The registered outbreaks were all linked to food prepared in restaurants and function centres, including two in Queensland, two in Tasmania, one in South Australia, one in New South Wales and one in Western Australia.
The suspected dishes included pan-fried duck liver, chicken liver pate, chicken liver parfait, and duck liver parfait. Inadequate cooking of the poultry liver dishes was believed to be a “significant contributing factor” to these outbreaks.
In its warning FSANZ said that, like other poultry meat, livers need to be cooked all the way through to kill bacteria that may be present – lightly frying the surface is not enough.
While cooked whole livers may be served slightly pink in the centre, they should never be bloody or look raw. Livers should be cooked to a safe internal temperature – measured using a digital probe thermometer at 70C for at least two minutes.
A safer way to prepare paté is to follow recipes that require baking the whole dish in an oven or water bath – often at temperatures above 150C for up to two hours).