Are slow cookers safe for cooking chicken and meat? I've read that keeping food at such a low temperature might be dangerou–is it true?
Although it seems that cooking food at such a low temperature might be dangerous, slow cookers are, in fact safe, according to the USDA. When you use a slow cooker, food stays at 170-280 degrees in a tightly covered container. As is true with any method of cooking, on its way to being safe the food passes through a time period where bacteria might thrive. The key is to continue cooking until it reaches a bacteria-killing temperature.
The USDA does recommend that, if possible, you cook large pieces of meat in a slow cooker on the HIGH heat setting for 1 hour and then reduce to the LOW heat setting for the remaining cooking time.
It is also important to fill the slow cooker at least halfway but not more than two-thirds of the way and to keep the lid on throughout the cooking process. Do not put frozen food in the slow cooker.