Lyndsay Burginger

Don't Panic If You Spill Chicken Juice All Over Your Reusable Bag

It happens to all of us. Here's what you need to know to prevent foodborne illnesses.

Picture this: you've just spent the better part of an hour stocking up at the grocery store. Aisle by aisle, you founded the best prices and avoided the temptation of taking multiple samples of the mini chocolate chip cookies they have at the counter. Patting yourself on the back, you presented your fashionable reusable grocery totes to the bagger. You loaded up the car and make the drive home while singing along enthusiastically to Before He Cheats. Once home, you picked up your grocery bags and realized one is a bit wet and smells like....chicken? Yuck, raw poultry juice covered your bag (and your groceries) in their clutch. How on earth do we fix a problem like this?

If there's one thing I don't mess with, it's raw chicken juice. As a magnet for foodborne illness and harmful bacteria such as salmonella, Campylobacter jejuni, Campylobacter and Staphylococcus aureus, poultry products must be fully cooked to prevent disease and illness. Food poisoning is never fun and one of the common causes is cross-contamination between raw poultry and ready-to-eat foods. You know, the ones that somehow ended up in the bag with the chicken.

Let's take a step back and see how we could have prevented the spill, and if needed, how we can clean up the spill and make sure all of our food products are safe.

1. Bag the poultry.

raw chicken

According to Kansas State University researcher Dr. Edgar Chambers only 20 percent of people use the plastic bags the store provides next to the raw meat. Even if your chicken is sealed in its characteristic plastic and styrofoam, grab a bag and wrap it around the package. If the package does leak you have a plastic bag to safeguard all of your other items. It's a small step to take to prevent spills.

2. Take a look at the damage.

Okay, so your chicken decided to leak all over the bag. Assess the damage and check if the chicken juice soaked all the way through the bag and onto the car upholstery. Once you have spotted the leak, place the chicken container and bag (along with any items that were effected) into the kitchen sink. Don't turn the water on just yet, we are just isolating the problem in an easy-to-clean spot.

3. Clean up.

Grab a roll of paper towels and start wiping everything down including the outside of the packages and any surface the raw chicken touched. Once used throw away the paper towels.

4. Sanitize.


Following the paper towel clean up, use a antibacterial wipe or spray and wipe down the chicken packages along with the other packages affected. If any chicken juice got on ready-to-eat foods or fresh produce, throw away. Make sure to sanitize any places the chicken juice might have dripped, including the floor and the car door handle.

5. Do a load of laundry.

Once the chicken juice has been contained, throw the reusable bag in the washing machine, cleaning with cold water, detergent and air-drying. If there's any stains on the car seats use some antibacterial dish soap to wash up.

One comment on Thrifty Fun recommends sprinkling baking soda on the stain then vacuuming it up to get rid of any meat smells.

6. Wash your hands.

washing hands

Once finished, wash hands for at least 20 seconds with antibacterial soap to prevent any bacteria from spreading.

Watch: Supper vs. Dinner: What's the Difference?