Canadian health officials are urging consumers to check their homes for certain frozen “Janes Pub Style” breaded chicken because DNA tests have matched Salmonella in the products to victims of a nationwide outbreak, which already may have killed one person.

Consumers should not eat the products, according to a Wednesday update from the Public Health Agency of Canada. The chicken burgers and chicken nuggets were distributed coast to coast.

A similar warning went out Tuesday from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency in the form of a recall notice for the Janes brand frozen, uncooked, breaded “Pub Style” chicken burgers and popcorn chicken produced by Sofina Foods Inc.

Five more people have been confirmed with Salmonella infections since the previous public update, bringing the total to 18 victims across six provinces, according Wednesday post. A third of the victims have had symptoms so severe that they required hospitalization.

“One of the ill individuals has died; however, it has not been determined if Salmonella contributed to the cause of death,” the public health agency reported. “Individuals became sick between June and September of this year. The average age of cases is 41 years, with ages ranging between 0 to 85 years.

“Several individuals involved in the outbreak reported eating ‘Janes Pub Style Chicken Burgers’ before their illness occurred. Food samples of Janes Pub Style Chicken Burgers, 800 g, with best before date 2018 MA 12, and Janes Pub Style Snacks Popcorn Chicken, 800 g, with best before date 2018 MA 15, tested positive for Salmonella Enteritidis.

“The positive food samples had the same genetic fingerprint — using whole genome sequencing — as the cases of human illness reported in this outbreak.”

Investigators faced with multiple outbreaks
The 18 sick people are spread across six provinces in the following numbers British Columbia 1, Alberta 1, Ontario 10, Quebec 2, New Brunswick 2, and Nova Scotia 2. That marks a 38 percent increase since Canada’s federal health agency last reported on the outbreak on Sept. 28.

At that time, the health agency was not naming specific products, but warning the public on general points of food safety when storing, handling and preparing frozen, uncooked, breaded chicken. The agency was anticipating additional illnesses to be confirmed because of the lag time between when a person becomes ill and when a lab-confirmed test is reported to public health officials.

Although the Sept. 28 public health alert stated there had not be a recall in relation to the ongoing outbreak, a recall notice posted by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency on July 12 alluded to the outbreak.

That recall involved President’s Choice brand “Pub Recipe Chicken Nuggets” from Loblaw Companies Ltd. The recall notice reported there had been illnesses associated with the product. But those 13 victims became ill from April through June.

“This recall was triggered by findings by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) during its investigation into a foodborne illness outbreak. The CFIA is conducting a food safety investigation, which may lead to the recall of other products,” according to the July 12 President’s Choice recall notice.

Ultimately, sample of the product collected from a retailer tested positive for Salmonella Enteritidis and had the same genetic fingerprint as the cases of human illness reported in the outbreak earlier this year.

The public Health Agency of Canada posted a final outbreak report Aug. 25 on the outbreak traced to the President’s Choice brand Pub Recipe Chicken Nuggets.

As with the Janes brand products recalled this week, concern remains that consumers may still have unused portions of the President’s Choice branded products in their homes because the product’s best-before date is March 15, 2018.

Advice to consumers
Anyone can become sick with a Salmonella infection, but infants, children, seniors and those with weakened immune systems are at higher risk of serious illness because their immune systems are more fragile, according to the Canadian health agency.

Most people who become ill from a Salmonella infection will recover fully after a few days. It is possible for some people to be infected with the bacteria and not get sick or show any symptoms, but still be able to spread the infection to others.

Anyone who has eaten any raw, frozen, breaded chicken products and developed symptoms of  Salmonella infection should seek medical attention and tell their doctors about the possible exposure to the bacteria.

Symptoms of a Salmonella infection, called salmonellosis, typically start 6 to 72 hours after exposure to Salmonella bacteria, but in some people it takes two weeks for symptoms to develop. Symptoms include fever, chills, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, headache, nausea and vomiting. These symptoms usually last for four to seven days.

Preparation precautions
The public health agency recommends the following precautions when handling and preparing raw or partially cooked frozen breaded chicken products:

  • Do not eat raw or undercooked frozen breaded chicken products. Cook all frozen breaded products to an internal temperature of at least 74 degrees C (165 degrees 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 degrees C (165 degrees 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.

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