Halal Digest Header JANUARY 2004
ISSN 1533-3361
In This Issue
Food News Chicken

Alhamdulillah was-salatu was-salaamu 'ala rasoolillah. All thanks and praise is to ALLAH, Subhanahu wa ta'ala, and we ask that HIS blessings and peace be upon HIS Messenger, Muhammad, salla ALLAHu alaihi wa sallam. roast chicken
M&M's to phase out colors for a while. M&M's will phase out colors in 2004 and run a contest before bringing the colors back. Six special bags containing colored product will be distributed and the purchasers of those bags will receive a grand prize. (Reported on on December 29, 2003.)
Mad cow discovered in Washington State. Mad cow disease has been discovered in a cow in Washington in the United States. A number of meat importing countries, including the largest American beef importer Japan, have blocked imports of American beef. (Reported on on December 24, 2003.)
New safeguards to protect US beef. The United States Agriculture Secretary, Ann Veneman, announced new safeguards to bolster protection systems against BSE. They include banning downer cattle from the human food chain; holding meat from cattle that have been tested for BSE until the test has confirmed negative; requiring additional process controls for establishments using advanced meat recovery; and prohibiting the air-injection stunning of cattle. Also, USDA will implement a verifiable system of national animal identification. (Reported on on December 30, 2003.)
Ephedra to be banned. The United States Food & Drug Administration will ban the use of ephedrine alkaloids and advises consumers to stop using Ephedra containing dietary supplements immediately. (Reported on on December 30, 2003.)
Italian dairy giant Parmalat being investigated for fraud. Italian dairy giant Parmalat is in the midst of a major fraud investigation. They are looking to sell their North American Archway Cookies business. (Reported on on January 1, 2004.)roast chicken

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Chicken Chicken is the number one species consumed by Americans. The chicken is a descendant of the Southeast Asian red jungle fowl first domesticated in India. Today, most chicken raised for meat in America are from the Cornish and the White Rock breeds. Chickens come in different varieties including broiler-fryer, Cornish hen, roaster, capon, stewing hen and rooster.

Broiler-fryer is a young chicken that weighs 2½ to 4 pounds when eviscerated. A Cornish game hen is a small broiler-fryer that weighs 1 to 2 pounds. A Roaster is an older chicken that weighs 5 to 7 pounds. A Capon is a male chicken that has been surgically unsexed and weighs 4 to 7 pounds. A Stewing hen is a mature egg-laying hen and a Rooster is a mature male chicken with coarse skin and tough, dark meat.

Hormones are not used in the raising of chickens. However, antibiotics may be given to prevent disease and increase feed efficiency. If antibiotics were used, a withdrawal period is required before the bird can be slaughtered. The US Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service, FSIS, randomly samples poultry at slaughter and tests for antibiotic residues.

Chicken in the supermarket must be inspected by the USDA or state inspectors. State standards must be equal to or higher than the federal standards. Each chicken and its internal organs are inspected for signs of disease. Chicken may also be graded according to USDA Agricultural Marketing Service regulations and standards for meatiness, appearance and freedom from defects. Grading is a voluntary process. Grade A chickens have clear skin and are free of bruises, broken bones, feathers, cuts and discoloration.

Fresh chicken refers to product that has never been below 26ºF. If the raw chicken is held at 0ºF or below, it must be labeled as frozen of previously frozen. There is no specific labeling required on raw poultry stored at temperatures between 0 and 25ºF. Dating on chicken is not required by Federal regulations.

Fresh chicken cannot include additives. Processed chicken may include additives such as MSG, salt, or other additives, but these must be listed on the label.

Rotisseriw Chicken A number of food borne organisms may affect chicken. They multiply rapidly at temperatures between 40ºF and 140ºF. Freezing doesn't kill bacteria but they are destroyed by thorough cooking to 160ºF. Salmonella Enteriditis may be found in the intestines of poultry and other warm-blooded animals. Staphylococcus aureus can be carried on human hands, in nasal passages, or in throats and may find its way into foods made by hand and improperly refrigerated, such as chicken salad. Campylobacter jejuni is one of the most common causes of diarrheal illness in humans. Preventing cross- contamination and using proper cooking methods reduces infection by this bacterium. Listeria is another organism that may affect chicken. While cooking will destroy these organisms, thoroughly cooked chicken can be contaminated again by poor handling practices or poor sanitation. Always wash thoroughly before handling food and between handling raw meat and poultry and cooked foods and avoid drips from poultry onto other food items. The USDA's FSIS has a zero tolerance for bacteria in cooked and ready-to-eat products such as chicken franks or lunchmeat that can be eaten without further cooking.

In the supermarket, raw chicken should feel cold to the touch when purchased. It is best to select fresh chicken as close to checkout as possible. Also, put packages of chicken in disposable plastic bags to prevent leakage onto other foods. Chicken should be refrigerated immediately and used within 1-2 days, or frozen. When freezing for an extended time, it is best to overwrap the store package with aluminum foil or freezer wrap to avoid freezer burn. If freezer burn does occur, remove those sections before or after cooking.

The pink liquid in packaged fresh chicken is generally water, not blood. Blood is removed from poultry during slaughter and only a small amount remains in the muscle tissue. An improperly bled chicken would have cherry red skin and is condemned at the plant. Even so, one should avoid getting this liquid on other food products as it may contain bacteria.

Prepared chicken should be hot when picked up and should be eaten within 2 hours. The sooner the better (but don’t get burned eating it while it is too hot). If it is not going to be eaten soon, it should be refrigerated and eaten within 3-4 days. It should be eaten cold or heated to 165ºF.

Frozen chicken should never be defrosted on the counter. Chicken should be defrosted in the refrigerator, in cold water or in the microwave. When defrosting in the refrigerator, it may take a day or two, so plan ahead. Remember, chicken will be safe in the refrigerator for 1-2 days after it defrosts and you can refreeze it without cooking it if you decide not to use it. If defrosting in cold water, make sure the chicken is in airtight packaging or place it into a leak proof bag and submerge in cold water. Change the water every 30 minutes until the beef is thawed. This may take 1-3 hours, depending on the size. If defrosting in a microwave, it should be cooked immediately after defrosting. You should cook chicken that has been defrosted by cold water or in the microwave before refreezing. You can cook frozen chicken in the oven or on the stove, but don’t cook it in a slow cooker or in the microwave. You should not refrigerate partially cooked chicken. Finish cooking it before refrigerating it.

Chicken may be marinated in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Boil used marinade before brushing it on cooked chicken. Discard any uncooked leftover marinade.

FSIS recommends cooking whole chicken to 180ºF as measured in the thigh using a food thermometer. Approximate cooking times for chicken that has been refrigerated at 40ºF are as follows:

Type of ChickenWeightRoasting (350ºF)SimmeringGrilling
Unstuffed whole
broiler fryer
3-4 lbs 1¼- 1½ hours 60-75 minutes 60-75 minutes
Unstuffed whole
roasting hen
5-7 lbs 2-2¼ hours 1¾-3 hours 18-25 minutes per lb
Unstuffed whole
4-8 lbs 2-3 hours not suitable 15-20 minutes per lb
Unstuffed whole
Cornish hens
18-24 oz 50-60 minutes 35-40 minutes 45-55 minutes
Breast halves,
6-8 oz 30-40 minutes 35-45 minutes 10-15 minutes per side
Breast half,
4 oz 20-30 minutes 25-30 minutes 6-8 minutes per side
Legs or thighs 8 or 4 oz 40-50 minutes 40-50 minutes 10-15 minutes per side
Drumsticks 4 oz 35-45 minutes 40-50 minutes 8-12 minutes per side
Wings or wingettes 2-3 oz 30-40 minutes 35-45 minutes 8-12 minutes per side

To cook chicken in the microwave:

  • Microwave on medium-high (70 percent power)
  • For whole chicken, microwave for 9 to 10 minutes per pound; for bone-in parts and Cornish hens, microwave for 8 to 9 minutes per pound; for boneless breast halves, microwave for 6 to 8 minutes per pound.
  • When microwaving parts, arrange in dish or on rack so thick parts are toward the outside of dish and thin or bony parts are in the center.
  • Place whole chicken in an oven cooking bag or in a covered pot.
  • For boneless breast halves, place in a dish with ¼ cup water; cover with plastic wrap.
  • Allow 10 minutes standing time for bone-in chicken; 5 minutes for boneless breast.
  • The USDA recommends cooking whole poultry to 180ºF as measured in the thigh using a food thermometer. When cooking pieces, the breast should reach 170ºF internally. Drumsticks, thighs, and wings should be cooked until they reach an internal temperature of 180ºF.
Chicken skin color may vary due to the type of feed eaten by the chicken. Skin color is not an indication of nutritional value, flavor, tenderness or fat content. Color preferences vary in different parts of the country, so growers use the type of feed that produces the desired color.

Giblet color can also vary, especially in the liver, from mahogany to yellow. The type of feed, the chicken's metabolism and its breed can account for the variation in color. However, if the liver is green, do not eat it. This is due to bile retention. The chicken meat should still be safe to eat.

Roast Chicken Today’s chickens may seem to have more fatty deposits than in the past. This is because broiler fryer chickens have been bred to grow very rapidly. Feed that is not converted into meat is metabolized into fat. Since the fat is not marbled into the meat, it can be removed easily.

Food-grade trisodium phosphate (TSP) has been approved by FSIS for use in poultry slaughter as an antimicrobial agent. It’s use can significantly reduce bacteria levels. TSP is "generally recognized as safe" (GRAS) by the FDA, and has been safely used for years, particularly in processed cheese.

Since 1992, irradiation of raw, fresh or frozen packaged poultry has been approved by the USDA. Irradiation is used to control certain common bacteria on raw poultry that can cause illness when poultry is undercooked or otherwise mishandled. Packages of irradiated chicken are easily must carry the international radura symbol along with the statement, "treated with irradiation" or "treated by irradiation."

Some additional recommendations on storage of chicken products are:

ProductRefrigerator 40ºF
Fresh Chicken, Giblets or Ground Chicken 1-2 days
Cooked chicken, Leftover chicken 3-4 days
Chicken broth or gravy 1-2 days
Cooked chicken nuggets or patties 1-2 days
Fried chicken 3-4 days
Take-out convenience chicken
(rotisserie, fried, etc.)
3-4 days
Restaurant chicken leftovers,
(brought home immediately in a "Doggie bag"
3-4 days
Chicken salad 3-5 days
Deli-sliced chicken luncheon meat 3-5 days
Chicken luncheon meat, sealed in package 2 weeks (but no longer than 1 week after "sell-by" date)
Chicken luncheon meat, after opening 3-5 days
Chicken hotdogs, unopened 2 weeks (but no longer than 1 week after "sell-by" date)
Chicken hotdogs, after opening 7 days
Canned chicken products (unopened) 2-5 years in pantry

(This information was extracted from the USDA FSIS website at roast chicken

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