Is chicken safe to eat at 130 degrees? (Risks)
In this brief guide, we will answer the question “Is chicken safe to eat at 130 degrees?”. We will discuss all the aspects related to the cooking of chicken, including the best technique to do it.
Is chicken safe to eat at 130 degrees?
No, chicken is not safe for consumption at 130 degrees because this temperature is insufficient to eliminate harmful bacteria. Poultry products can potentially be contaminated with Staphylococcus aureus due to contact with individuals carrying this bacterium.
This pathogen poses the primary food safety concern during extended periods of heating known as the come-up times (CUT), during which the product temperature is between 50 to 130°F. S. aureus can already be present in raw poultry and may proliferate to levels where it produces toxins in the food.
The growth of this bacterium starts from 45 to 118°F but becomes particularly effective at temperatures exceeding 60°F. Therefore, to ensure the safety of the chicken, it should be cooked to temperatures at least above 130°F. Besides temperature, both time and fat content are equally important factors for proper cooking.
Chicken with a fat content of 1% necessitates a minimum cooking time of 63.3 minutes at an internal temperature of 136°F (57.8°C), while chicken boasting a 12% fat content needs at least 81.4 minutes of cooking. This phenomenon occurs because the presence of fats tends to confer greater heat resistance to specific microorganisms.
This phenomenon is commonly referred to as “fat protection,” and it is believed to bolster heat resistance by influencing the moisture levels within the cells. (1, 2)
Why is that extended time necessary?
The prolonged cooking time is essential to ensure a substantial decrease in the presence of Salmonella spp. While it’s technically possible to cook chicken just above 130°F (54.5°C), it’s generally not recommended.
This is because a 7.0 log10 reduction in Salmonella spp. is required to guarantee poultry’s safety, besides that, chicken cooked at 130°F has a very tender, almost raw texture that is usually unappealing. A log10 reduction signifies a tenfold reduction in pathogens. When the necessary 7.0 log10 reductions are achieved, the food is considered safe to eat.
However, if poultry falls short of these 7.0 log10 reductions, it’s considered undercooked and should be subjected to additional cooking to attain the required log10 reductions or be cooked to an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C), as this temperature can promptly eliminate any pathogens present in the meat. (1, 2)
Why is it necessary to properly cook chicken?
Consuming undercooked chicken carries a significant health hazard. When chicken is not heated to a temperature sufficient to effectively eradicate harmful pathogens, it heightens the risk of contracting foodborne illnesses. Certain cooking methods, such as frying, can elevate the external temperature of the chicken to levels that can eliminate surface bacteria.
Nevertheless, inadequate cooking may permit the survival of specific internal bacterial pathogens, potentially giving rise to health concerns if the partially cooked chicken is consumed. Incomplete cooking primarily pertains to bacterial pathogens residing within the chicken itself, while the risk of cross-contamination primarily revolves around bacteria found on the surface of poultry.
This risk can extend to other food items, either through direct or indirect means, as these bacteria can be transmitted during the food preparation and handling process. (3, 4)
What are the most common foodborne pathogens in chickens?
Chicken meat, much like other poultry, frequently harbors a variety of pathogens, with Campylobacter and Salmonella standing out as the most notable. These two pathogens, known for their potential health risks to humans, are often found in substantial quantities within the digestive systems of birds. Nevertheless, it remains crucial to detect their presence, even if they are present in minimal quantities, after any potential contamination of chicken meat. (5)
What happens if you eat contaminated chicken?
Eating chicken that has been tainted with harmful pathogens can result in foodborne illnesses. Campylobacter infection typically presents with symptoms like stomach cramps, along with fever and diarrhea, sometimes containing blood. Nausea and vomiting may also accompany the onset of diarrhea.
These symptoms usually emerge within two to five days after infection and typically endure for approximately a week. In cases of Salmonella infection, however, most individuals experience symptoms like fever, diarrhea, and stomach cramps. These signs appear six hours to six days after infection and tend to persist for four to seven days. (5-7)
What is the best technique to cook chicken at low temperatures?
The sous vide technique is consistently favored as the optimal method for achieving this objective. Sous vide involves carefully cooking raw ingredients in vacuum-sealed, heat-resistant pouches or containers while precisely controlling both temperature and duration.
This is followed by rapid cooling. This culinary technique falls under the category of low-temperature, long-duration cooking. It has been widely adopted in restaurant kitchens since the 1970s and has gained significant popularity since the early 2000s. Sous vide primarily relies on lower temperatures, usually staying below 70°C for cooking.
These lower temperatures are considered safe when coupled with appropriately extended cooking times to effectively eliminate harmful pathogens. The required cooking times can vary greatly, ranging from minutes to several days, depending on the specific temperature used. It is crucial to ensure precise alignment between time and temperature to prioritize safety. (1)
What is the safest way to prepare chicken?
When it comes to chicken, ensuring its safety is paramount. The recommended method involves cooking the bird thoroughly until its internal temperature reaches a minimum of 165°F (73.9°C) throughout.
This ensures that To ensure that the desired temperature is reached, it is essential to utilize a food thermometer for both the chicken and its stuffing. It is highly recommended to consistently employ a food thermometer at different cooking stages to guarantee the critical temperature is achieved. (8)
In this brief guide, we have answered the question “Is chicken safe to eat at 130 degrees?”. We have discussed all the aspects related to the cooking of chicken including the best technique to do it.
Studying this topic I was able to conclude that cooking chicken at 130 °F is very risky and should not be done, consuming undercooked chicken carries a high risk of causing foodborne illness. In my perspective when preparing chicken at home it is safer to cook it until it reaches the appropriate temperature of 165°F.
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PLAIN, Sara et al. Examining the safety of duck breast prepared the sous vide method. BCIT Environmental Public Health Journal, 2016.
U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food Safety and Inspection Service. FSIS Cooking Guideline for Meat and Poultry Products (Revised Appendix A). 2021.
BROWN, Laura Green et al. Frequency of inadequate chicken cross-contamination prevention and cooking practices in restaurants. Journal of food protection, v. 76, n. 12, p. 2041-2045, 2013.
LUBER, Petra. Cross-contamination versus undercooking of poultry meat or eggs—which risks need to be managed first?. International journal of food microbiology, v. 134, n. 1-2, p. 21-28, 2009.
ROUGER, Amélie; TRESSE, Odile; ZAGOREC, Monique. Bacterial contaminants of poultry meat: sources, species, and dynamics. Microorganisms, v. 5, n. 3, p. 50, 2017.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC]. Campylobacter (Campylobacteriosis). 2021.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC]. Salmonella. 2023.
U.S. Department of Agriculture. https://www.fsis.usda.gov/food-safety Website. Washington, DC. Chicken from Farm to Table. 2019.