In the movie "Stand by Me," Ace Merrill (Kiefer Sutherland) is a gang leader who plays a dangerous game of chicken with a truck that swerves out of the way at the last minute.
You might not think cooking chicken for dinner is as dangerous as that idiotic "game," but researchers looked at the culinary habits of people in five European countries and found they're endangering their health by playing chicken with chicken.
It turns out that they're undercooking the poultry, and increasing their risk for foodborne illnesses.
And we bet the same mistakes are being made here in the United States.
If you check for doneness by looking at the inner color of the meat (as 50% of folks do) that's not going to protect you from getting sick. It's also a mistake to examine the color of the juices or the texture of the meat. None of those methods are reliable indicators that pathogens have been killed.
The consequences: Undercooked chicken can deliver salmonella and campylobacter bacteria, causing abdominal pain, chills, diarrhea, fever, vomiting, and bloody stools. From all sources, those microbes sicken 2.85 million people annually in the U.S.
Your best bet is to allow the chicken to reach room temperature before cooking. Then use a fast-response meat thermometer to gauge doneness.
Most bacteria are on the surface of the chicken, so make sure the inner and outside temperature reaches a germ-killing 165 F.
Also, be sure to clean your kitchen thoroughly after handling raw meat to prevent the transfer of bacteria to countertops, utensils, or other foods.