Barriers to Using a Food Thermometer When Cooking Poultry at Home: Results from a National Survey

Katherine M. Kosa, Sheryl C. Cates, Sandria Godwin, Edgar Chambers IV

Biblographic citation: Food Protection Trends, vol. 37, no. 2, pp. 116-125, Mar 2017

Volume 37, Issue 2: Pages 116–125

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Raw poultry may be contaminated with Salmonella and Campylobacter, so it is important that consumers properly handle and prepare poultry. Using a food thermometer is the only reliable way to ensure that poultry has reached a safe internal temperature. A nationally representative Web-enabled panel survey of U.S. adult grocery shoppers (n = 1,504) was conducted to describe consumers’ handling and preparation practices for raw poultry. About 62% of consumers reported owning a thermometer. Among thermometer owners, the majority reported using one to determine doneness of whole turkeys (73.2%) and chickens (56.7%), but fewer used one to determine doneness of turkey breasts (42.6%), chicken breasts/ other parts (26.3%), or patties (11.7%) made with raw ground poultry. Among owners who were nonusers, the majority reported using another method to determine doneness or reported they “never thought to use one.” Few respondents expressed concerns on how to use a thermometer, or on ease or practicality of using one. Educators should address the unreliability of visual cues to determine doneness and emphasize that use of a thermometer is the only reliable way to ensure that bacteria are destroyed. It is also important to convey the risk of contracting Salmonella and Campylobacter infection from eating raw/undercooked poultry.

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