Frozen stuffed chicken entrees cause salmonella problems
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota health and agriculture officials said Thursday that seven recent cases of salmonellosis in Minnesota have been linked to raw, frozen, breaded and pre-browned, stuffed chicken entrees.
ST. PAUL - Minnesota health and agriculture officials said Thursday that seven recent cases of salmonellosis in Minnesota have been linked to raw, frozen, breaded and pre-browned, stuffed chicken entrees.
Investigators from the departments said the illnesses occurred in two separate outbreaks, with two different strains of salmonella and two unrelated producers.
The illnesses prompted health officials to remind consumers that the products may look cooked, but are in fact raw and should be handled carefully to avoid cross-contamination in the kitchen and then always cooked thoroughly.
In the first outbreak, four illnesses occurring from April 5 through June 8 were linked to Barber Foods Chicken Kiev. This product has a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) stamped code of P-276. This product is sold at many different retailers, including grocery store chains. The four cases in this outbreak ranged in age from 19 to 82 years, all from the metro area, and two were hospitalized.
In the second outbreak, three people got sick from May 9 to June 8 after eating Antioch Farms brand Cordon Bleu raw stuffed chicken breast with a U.S. Department of Agriculture stamped code of P-1358. This product is sold at many different grocery store chains. The three cases were all adults in their 30s and 40s from the metro area, and two were hospitalized.
With these two outbreaks, there have now been nine outbreaks of salmonellosis in Minnesota linked to these types of products since 1998.
“These chicken products are raw, breaded and pre-browned and often found near pre-cooked products at the grocery store, so even though the current labels state that the product is raw, consumers could mistakenly think the product is pre-cooked,” said Carlota Medus, epidemiologist for the foodborne illness unit at the health department.
Improvements were made to the labeling of such products in 2008, but three outbreaks have occurred from eating the raw, stuffed chicken products since 2014, said Medus.
Consumers with these products in their freezers, if they choose to use them, should cook them thoroughly. Other important food handling practices include washing hands thoroughly after handling raw meat, keeping raw and cooked foods separate to avoid cross-contamination, and placing cooked meat on a clean plate or platter before serving.
Symptoms of salmonellosis include diarrhea, abdominal pain and cramps and fever. Symptoms usually begin within 12 to 72 hours after exposure, but can begin up to a week after exposure. Salmonella infections usually resolve in 5 to 7 days, but approximately 28 percent of laboratory-confirmed cases require hospitalization.
About 700 cases of salmonellosis are reported each year in Minnesota.