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USDA warns of unsafe cooking habits



A study from the USDA discovered potentially harmful cooking mistakes made in households.

Labor Day Weekend is the perfect time to cook meals for family and friends, but the USDA said cooking methods could share harmful foodborne illnesses among family and friends.

Each year, 48 million people get sick from a foodborne illness, according to the CED. Of those, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die.

A study from the USDA asked 300 volunteers to cook chicken thighs and prepare a salad. Chris Bernstein, director of food safety education, said people are not supposed to wash raw poultry before cooking it, yet almost two-thirds of Americans do. That water splatters bacteria across the kitchen.

“Most concerning, the contamination ended up in the salad that people were putting together to go with their chicken thighs,” Bernstein said. “That is food that you are putting directly in your mouth.”

The study showed more than a quarter of the side-salads were contaminated with bacteria. Additionally, those who washed their raw chicken in the sink did not appropriately clean the mess.

“People say, well, I know I’m not supposed to wash poultry, but I do a really good job cleaning up,” Bernstein said. “What was really fascinating is that about 75 percent of people didn’t even try to clean their sink after they washed their poultry, and 100 percent of those who tried to clean their sink did not do so effectively.”

Bernstein said the best way to wash the sink is to run hot water to get rid of food debris and spray it with bleach-based sanitizer.

Kaitlyn Riley’s passion for communications started on her family’s dairy farm in Gays Mills, Wis. Wanting to share agriculture’s story, she studied strategic communications and broadcast journalism at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In college, she held officer positions with the Association of Women in Agriculture and Badger Dairy Club while volunteering as a news reporter for the college radio station. She also founded the university’s first agricultural radio talk show, AgChat. In her professional career, Kaitlyn has worked in radio, print and television news doing everything from covering local events to interviewing presidential candidates, and putting back on her barn boots to chat with farmers in the field. Today, Kaitlyn can be seen covering local stories that matter to you in the La Crosse area.

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