Thirteen people have become ill in a Salmonella Enteritidis outbreak that has been tied to the consumption of frozen raw breaded chicken products.
The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) reported on September 28 that the illnesses have occurred in four provinces. Seven cases have occurred in Ontario, while two cases each have been reported in Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.
PHAC is investigating the outbreak with assistance from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and Health Canada. The investigation, which remains active, revealed that all of those affected by illnesses had consumed frozen raw breaded chicken products, but the agencies have not yet revealed the brand or labeling information connected with those products.
According to the health agency, no deaths have occurred, but four people were in need of hospitalization. The illnesses all occurred between June and August 2017, and the average age of those who became ill was 38.
Earlier Salmonella outbreak in Canada
This outbreak follows a similar one in Canada that was reported in July. Loblow Copanies recalled uncooked breaded chicken nugget products that were connected with an outbreak that caused 12 cases of Salmonella illnesses in four provinces: Alberta, Ontario, British Columbia and New Brunswick.
PHAC cautions that frozen raw breaded chicken products may appear to be pre-cooked or browned, but they contain raw chicken and should be handled and prepared no differently from other raw poultry products. People preparing frozen raw breaded chicken products, such as nuggets, strips or burgers, are advised to take the following precautions to protect their health:
- Do not eat raw or undercooked frozen breaded chicken products. Cook all frozen breaded products to an internal temperature of at least 74°C (165°F) to ensure they are safe to eat.
- Microwave cooking of frozen raw breaded poultry products including chicken nuggets, strips or burgers is not recommended due to uneven heating.
- Always follow package cooking instructions, including products labelled Uncooked, Cook and Serve, Ready to Cook, and Oven Ready.
- Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water before and after handling frozen raw breaded chicken products.
- Use a separate plate, cutting board and utensils when handling frozen raw breaded chicken products to prevent the spread of harmful bacteria.
- Use a digital food thermometer to verify that frozen raw breaded chicken products have reached at least 74°C (165°F). Insert the digital food thermometer through the side of the product, all the way to the middle. Oven-safe meat thermometers that are designed for testing whole poultry and roasts during cooking are not suitable for testing nuggets, strips or burgers.