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Public health alert for frozen raw breaded stuffed chicken products due to possible Salmonella contamination

In Farm, News, State by OC Monitor Staff

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service is issuing a public health alert due to concerns about illnesses caused by Salmonella Enteritidis that may be associated with frozen, raw, breaded and pre-browned, stuffed chicken products. These items may be labeled “chicken cordon bleu”, chicken with “broccoli and cheese”, or “chicken Kiev”. This public health alert is being issued to remind consumers about the proper handling and cooking of raw poultry products.

FSIS is investigating a Salmonella Enteritidis illness cluster with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state partners. FSIS suspects that there may be a link between the frozen, raw, breaded, and pre-browned stuffed chicken products and this illness cluster based on information gathered in conjunction with the CDC and state partners. Cases have been identified with illness onset dates ranging from Feb. 21, 2021, to May 7, 2021.

As part of the investigation, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture collected frozen, raw, breaded, stuffed chicken products from a retail store for testing. The raw product samples tested positive for the outbreak strain of Salmonella Enteritidis. At this time, the production lots tested in Minnesota are not known to have been purchased by any of the case-patients. FSIS has not received any purchase documentation, shopper records, or other traceable information at this time. Therefore, FSIS does not have the necessary information to request a recall. FSIS will continue to evaluate any new illness or traceable information as it becomes available. The investigation is ongoing, and FSIS continues to work with the CDC and state partners.

The products of concern may appear to be ready-to-eat but are in fact raw and need to be fully cooked before consumption. Many of these stuffed chicken products were labeled with instructions identifying that the product was uncooked (raw). The labels also identified cooking instructions for preparation in an oven. Some of the patients reported that they did not follow the cooking instructions and reported microwaving the product, cooking it in an air fryer or cooking it in the oven for less than the recommended time and without using a meat thermometer to confirm the recommended temperature was achieved. Thus, FSIS advises all consumers that particular attention needs to be taken to safely prepare and cook these frozen, raw poultry products to a temperature of 165 F. The only way to confirm raw poultry products are cooked to a temperature high enough to kill harmful bacteria is to use a food thermometer that measures internal temperature, as indicated in this chart. Additionally, FSIS advises all consumers to keep raw poultry away from other food that will not be cooked. Use one cutting board for raw poultry and a separate one for fresh produce and cooked foods.

Consumption of food contaminated with Salmonella can cause salmonellosis, one of the most common bacterial foodborne illnesses. The most common symptoms of salmonellosis are diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever within 6 hours to 6 days after exposure to the organism. The illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days. Most people recover without treatment. In some persons, however, the diarrhea may be so severe that the patient needs to be hospitalized. Older adults, infants, and persons with weakened immune systems are more likely to develop a severe illness. Individuals concerned about an illness should contact their health care provider.

Consumers with food safety questions can call the toll-free USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) or live chat via Ask USDA from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (Eastern Time) Monday through Friday. Consumers can also browse food safety messages at Ask USDA or send a question via email to [email protected]. For consumers that need to report a problem with a meat, poultry, or egg product, the online Electronic Consumer Complaint Monitoring System can be accessed 24 hours a day at https://foodcomplaint.fsis.usda.gov/eCCF/.

Recommendations for Preventing Salmonellosis:

Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before and after handling raw meat and poultry.  Also wash cutting boards, dishes, and utensils with hot soapy water. Clean up spills right away.

Keep raw meat, fish, and poultry away from other food that will not be cooked. Use one cutting board for raw meat, poultry, and egg products and a separate one for fresh produce and cooked foods.

Cook raw meat and poultry to safe internal temperatures before eating. The temperature to cook beef, pork, veal & lamb steaks, roasts & chops is 145 F with a 3-minute rest time, and 165 F for poultry, as determined with a food thermometer.

Refrigerate raw meat and poultry within two hours after purchase (one hour if temperatures exceed 90 F).  Refrigerate cooked meat and poultry within two hours after cooking.

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