The Cherokee County EMA had to issue a warning requesting that drivers not eat the chicken fingers that spilled on Highway 35 last Saturday night in Cherokee County in Alabama during an 18-wheeler wreck. After being left the road for more than 24 hours, the tenders are no longer safe to eat, authorities say.
“There were some people trying to get the chicken,” Josh Summerford, chief deputy for the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office, told The Washington Post. “They pulled off to the side. That was not a safe scenario.” The department also reminded commuters that it’s a crime to impede traffic.
Alabama officials warned drivers to not eat chicken tenders that spilled onto the highway after a semi crashed:— AL.com (@aldotcom) January 8, 2019
"There were some people trying to get the chicken," Josh Summerford, chief deputy for the Cherokee County Sheriff's Office, said. https://t.co/TFM7jLQbMF pic.twitter.com/aU1CtzaP9T
Americans are known to love their chicken. US residents, who spend $95 billion a year on chicken, consume more chicken than anyone else in the world – more than 92 pounds person in 2017. The poultry is the number one protein consumed in the US. The top five chicken producing states are Georgia, Arkansas, Alabama, North Carolina and Mississippi.
From 2009 to 2015, 100,939 people in the US suffered from food poisoning. Of these, 5,699 were admitted to hospitals and 145 died. In the outbreaks for which a specific food was found to be the cause, chicken was responsible for the most ailments, sickening 3,114 people, or about 12 percent of the total.
Curtis Summerville, a spokesperson for the division of the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency that oversees Cherokee County, told The Post that the driver of the 18-wheeler lost control of the truck when it spilled its load. Officials are still unsure as to what caused the spill. There are also no estimates on how many people helped themselves to the free chicken.
Luckily, no one was injured during the wreck, though it remains to be seen if anyone has become ill from eating the roadside chicken. As of Monday, the tenders had been removed from Highway 35 - about 90 miles northeast of Birmingham – and the road had been reopened, according to the sheriff's office.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, chicken must be kept below 40 degrees Fahrenheit and cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees to prevent food-borne illnesses. Raw chicken or undercooked chicken can often be contaminated with Campylobacter bacteria and occasionally with Salmonella and Clostridium perfringens bacteria. Eating undercooked chicken or other foods or beverages contaminated by raw chicken or its juices can result in a foodborne illness or food poisoning. Symptoms include high fever, diarrhea, prolonged vomiting and dehydration.