Poultry Safety

In this document you will find information on illnesses that have been linked to chicken, turkey and other poultry and what you can do to keep you and your family safe. You will also find out how Health Canada, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, the Public Health Agency of Canada and the poultry industry are working together to prevent human illnesses due to poultry. Information for the poultry industry on Health Canada's food safety programs, including reports on previous consultations, is found under Other Resources.

What is the Problem?

Two types of disease-causing bacteria, Salmonella and Campylobacter, are sometimes found in raw poultry. It only takes a few of these bacteria to cause severe diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps. In some cases, chronic arthritis and other complications may occur after the initial symptoms clear up. Although unlikely, infection with either of these bacteria can result in death. When children, the elderly, and those with weakened immune systems, such as pregnant women and cancer patients, become infected, the symptoms of foodborne illness can be much worse. Therefore, special care should be taken to avoid foodborne illness when preparing food for these people.

Find out how to prevent illness from poultry and how to tell when your poultry is finished cooking.

What is Health Canada doing?

Health Canada has a mandate to protect the health of Canadians through the development of policies, guidelines, standards and regulations. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency enforces these regulations and uses the policies, guidelines and standards in their assessment of industry food safety programs.

Health Canada is proposing a change to the Food and Drug regulations to have safe handling instructions on the labels of all raw ground and minced meat and poultry products. Meat and poultry products which look cooked but are not ready-to-eat (such as raw chicken nuggets) will also be included in these proposed labelling regulations. These safe handling labels would include recommended cooking temperatures.

Research on Salmonella and Campylobacter in poultry and on the farm is carried out by Health Canada and Public Health Agency of Canada scientists. New information from this research is used in the development of policies.

Educational material and campaigns are developed by Health Canada, in collaboration with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and other government organizations, the Canadian Partnership for Consumer Food Safety Education and the poultry industry.

Collaboration at an international level is developed through participation on the Codex Alimentarius Committee on Meat Hygiene.

Other Resources

The following links will provide you with more information on topics about Poultry Safety.

For the Public

It's Your Health
article that gives detailed instructions on how to safely prepare and cook turkey and stuffing, and how to store leftovers.
It's Your Health
article that gives information on the sources and health effects of
, and how to minimize your risk.
Salmonellosis: British Columbia
The report of an outbreak of
infection linked to chicken nuggets and strips (April 4, 2003).
Salmonella Infection from Raw/Undercooked Chicken Nuggets and Strips: Canada
A report on consumer misconceptions regarding chicken nuggets. (July 2, 2004).

For Industry

Health Canada's Initiative for mandatory safe handling labels for comminuted raw meat and poultry

Policy on Raw Foods of Animal Origin

Recommendations For The Development of Policy Related to Raw Foods of Animal Origin
A Report to Health Canada from the Steering Committee for Raw Foods of Animal Origin (Sept 24, 2001)

Canadian Food Inspection Agency

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