Don’t assume that chicken from a farmers’ market is less likely to be contaminated with bacteria than store-bought chicken. In fact, researchers at Penn State University discovered the opposite.
In tests of whole chickens bought at farmers’ markets in Pennsylvania, 90 percent were found to harbor Campylobacter, while 28 percent had Salmonella. In contrast, tests of conventional (nonorganic) whole chickens from large-chain supermarkets found that 52 percent had Campylobacter and 8 percent had Salmonella. And of the store-bought organic chickens, 28 percent and 20 percent harbored the two types of bacteria, respectively.
The researchers speculate that small poultry farmers, who are exempted from United Stated Department of Agriculture (USDA) inspection, may be falling short in safety practices designed to reduce pathogens. In particular, they may not be using antimicrobial rinses properly in processing, as indicated by the high counts of fecal and other bacteria (“hygiene indicators”) that were also found on farmers’ market chicken.
Bottom line: Cook all poultry to safe internal temperature: 165°F/74°C.