Federal health officials are cautioning consumers to fully heat raw frozen breaded chicken products due to the possibility of salmonella contamination.
The US Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has issued 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.
Officials said the 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,” they noted.
“FSIS is investigating a Salmonella Enteritidis illness cluster with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and state partners,” they said in a statement. “FSIS suspects that there may be a link between 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.”
There have been illnesses reported between Sunday, Feb. 21 and Friday, May 7 this year from consumers.
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.
FSIS said that it currently does not have the necessary information to request a recall, though it will continue to evaluate any new illness or traceable information as it becomes available.
The investigation is ongoing.
“The products of concern may appear to be ready-to-eat but are in fact raw and need to be fully cooked before consumption,” federal officials said. “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.”
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 12 to 72 hours after eating the contaminated product. The illness usually lasts four to seven days.
Most people recover without treatment. In some persons, however, 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.
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