Chicken may be a healthy protein source for most people, but it also causes the most outbreak-associated illnesses of any food, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In a new report published this week, the CDC looked at the causes of food borne disease outbreaks — which is when at least two people get the same illness from eating a common food — between 2009 and 2015. During this time, more than 5,760 food borne outbreaks caused 100,939 illnesses, 5,699 hospitalizations and 145 deaths.
Although fish caused the most individual disease outbreaks, chicken made the most people sick: 3,114 people became ill because they ate contaminated chicken.
Pork and seeded vegetables were next on the list behind chicken, making 2,670 and 2,572 people sick, respectively.
So what’s going on with chicken?
“Chicken is a reservoir for salmonella,” Thomas Gremillion, director of the Food Policy Institute at the Consumer Federation of America, told CBS News. “This CDC report shows that government inspectors and industry need to do more to protect consumers from unsafe chicken.”
Salmonella is a type of bacteria that can cause diarrhea, fever, and cramps about 12 to 72 hours after eating contaminated food. In addition to poultry, Salmonella can be found in eggs, cheese, juice, and fruit.
Guys, we know you love chicken — and the good news is, you don’t have to let this news ruin it for you. Instead, adopt these kitchen habits from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services to help reduce your risk of getting sick from Salmonella:
Avoid eating undercooked beef or poultry and raw eggs
Wash hands with soap and water before touching food
Clean all surfaces that are used to prepare meals
Avoid using the same utensils on raw and cooked foods.
Use a meat thermometer to cook foods to a safe internal temperature.