Can you eat raw chicken without getting sick?

In this brief article, we have answered the question, “Can you eat raw chicken without getting sick?” We have discussed the bacterial risks of consuming raw chicken and how to protect yourself from food poisoning. We have also briefly discussed how long it takes for raw chicken to go bad and the signs of spoiled raw chicken.

Can you eat raw chicken without getting sick?

No, it is strongly advised not to consume raw chicken. Raw chicken can potentially be contaminated with bacteria that can cause food poisoning. The cooking process is important because it helps kill any bacteria that may be present in raw chicken. Bacteria that can potentially be in raw chicken are:

  • Campylobacter.
  • Salmonella.
  • Clostridium perfringens.
  • E. coli.

Let’s take a look at some of these bacteria.

What are the health risks of eating raw chicken?

As mentioned above you may get food poisoning because of ingested food contaminated with bacteria. Some of the bacteria are:

Campylobacter

Campylobacter bacteria are gram negative bacteria that cause a Campylobacter infection also known as campylobacteriosis.The CDC puts the estimate for Campylobacter infections at about 1.5 million people in the United States every year.

Some of the symptoms associated with the infection are:

  • Diarrhea, sometimes bloody
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Belly cramps
  • Bloating
  • Fever

As per data from the CDC, the above symptoms can begin to show 2–5 days after eating infected meat and can last upto 1 week.

Salmonella

Salmonella bacteria cause a foodborne infection known as salmonellosis. Every year, it is reported that about 40,000 cases of salmonellosis are reported in the US alone.

Salmonella bacteria tend to live in the human and animal intestines and are shed through the stool. Most people get infected after eating or drinking contaminated food and water.

The signs and symptoms that can be attributed to salmonella infection are among:

  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach (abdominal) cramps
  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Chills
  • Headache
  • Blood in the stool

Clostridium perfringens

Clostridium perfringens are another common type of bacteria that causes food poisoning. It is estimated by the CDC that these bacteria account for nearly 1 million cases which are reported in the US every year. This food borne infection can be as a result of a person keeping cooked meat warm for a long time or from consuming raw or undercooked chicken. 

Symptoms associated with the infection are:

  • Diarrhea.
  • pain and cramps.
  • stomach bloating.
  • An increase in gut gas.
  • Having weight loss.
  • Nausea
  • Getting a loss of appetite.
  • Having muscle and joint aches.

Symptoms of infection usually start anywhere between 10 to 12 hours after eating contaminated food. They may also start as early as 6 hours or as long as 24 hours after contact.

The symptoms typically last 8 to 12 hours, but can last as long as 1 to 2 weeks for the very young or elderly.

E.coli

E.coli is another bacteria that can cause food poisoning. Although some strains are beneficial to the gut, others can make you extremely sick from food poisoning e.g E.coli 057:H7. These strains usually produce a toxin known as shiga. Consuming the toxin damages the lining of your intestine. It can cause very severe symptoms including:

  • Adult kidney failure
  • Fever
  • Bleeding
  • Confusion
  • Seizures

People who get infected start to feel ill 2 to 5 days after ingested contaminated food. The common symptoms are:

  • Abdominal cramps
  • Diarrhea, which may be bloody
  • Nausea
  • Constant fatigue

How do you protect yourself from food poisoning?

According to the CDC the following are some ways you can protect yourself from food poisoning:

Clean

It is important that you clean your hands thoroughly and any work surfaces that come into contact with any raw food. Bacteria are prone to live and survive in many sections in your kitchen.

Separate

Make sure you segregate any kinds of raw meats such as poultry, seafood, and also eggs from ready-to-eat foods. Ensure you utilize different boards to cut your meats and keep raw meats away from any other foods you have in your kitchen.

Cook

It is very important that food is cooked to the correct internal temperatures so that any bacteria present are killed. A food thermometer can be used to check.

Chill

Ensure your refrigerator operates at temperatures of 40°F or below. Refrigerate any leftovers as soon as possible and ideally within 2 hours of making the food.

How long until raw chicken goes bad? 

As per guidelines issued by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, raw chicken (in forms such as pieces like it’s breasts, thighs, drumsticks, and wings; or ground) should not be stored for more than 2 days in the refrigerator.

If you had frozen the chicken prior to defrost, the timeline starts after the meat is defrosted. So, if at all you’re unsure if you’ll get to cook the chicken after 2 days you are in a better place if you freeze it.

How can you tell when raw chicken has gone bad? 

Raw chicken that is  store bought  should ideally have a light pink color and have some white fatty pieces. If you find it to have gray or green flesh, or yellow fat please dispose of it because that is a sign of spoilage.

Another obvious way to tell is by smelling the raw chicken. If you find the smell to be rotten and funky, discard the chicken. 

Other FAQs about Chicken that you may be interested in.

Can you cook chicken at 140 degrees?

Can you cook the chicken to 145?

Can you cook chicken in a crockpot for 10 hours?

Conclusion

In this brief article, we have answered the question, “Can you eat raw chicken without getting sick?” We have discussed the bacterial risks of consuming raw chicken and how to protect yourself from food poisoning. We have also briefly discussed how long it takes for raw chicken to go bad and the signs of spoiled raw chicken.

Citations

Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.