A new multistate Salmonella outbreak has led to a recall by the food giant ConAgra.

ConAgra Foods Packaged Foods, LLC, in Council Bluffs, IA recalled Marie Callender’s brand Cheesy Chicken and Rice frozen meals late Thursday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced.

marie-calendar-label-featured.jpgConAgra recalled all Marie Callender’s brand Cheesy Chicken and Rice frozen meals in commerce, regardless of production date.

The recall came after the company was informed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of an investigation involving 29 people in 14 states who have been diagnosed with salmonellosis and tested positive for Salmonella serotype Chester.

Eight of the case-patients specifically reported eating this product in April and May 2010, prior to illness onset; the last reported illness was reported on May 22.

FSIS became aware of the problem during the course of an ongoing investigation of a multi-state outbreak of Salmonella serotype Chester illnesses.

CDC, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), FSIS, and state health and agriculture departments are cooperating in this ongoing investigation. 

Products subject to recall include:

13-ounce packages of “Marie Callender’s Cheesy Chicken & Rice White Meat Chicken and Broccoli over Rice Topped with Rich Cheddar Sauce.”

Each package bears a label with establishment number “P-45” inside the USDA mark of inspection.  Sales were made through retail stores nationwide.

FSIS routinely conducts recall effectiveness checks to verify recalling firms notify their customers of the recall and that steps are taken to make certain that the product is no longer available to consumers.

Consumers with questions about the recall should contact ConAgra Foods at 1-866-484-9610. 

While the recalled products should be safely discarded and not consumed, FSIS is reminding consumers to always follow all cooking and preparation instructions on food product labels.

Special attention to proper heating is important to ensure the entrees are fully cooked and all ingredients reach a safe minimum internal temperature of 165 F. Consumers should use a food thermometer to make sure the entrees reach at least 165 F.

Consumption of food contaminated with Salmonella can cause salmonellosis, one of the most common bacterial foodborne illnesses.

Salmonella infections can be life-threatening, especially to those with weak immune systems, such as infants, the elderly, and persons with HIV infection or undergoing chemotherapy.

The most common manifestations of salmonellosis are diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever within eight to 72 hours. Additional symptoms may be chills; headache, nausea and vomiting that can last up to seven days.