Salmonella Enteritidis outbreaks in Canada and the United States that have been traced to raw frozen chicken patties are likely not related, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“The strain in Canada is not related genetically to the strain in the U.S., so the outbreaks do not appear to be related,” a CDC spokesperson told Food Safety News.

Photo illustration

Between the two outbreaks, 65 people have been confirmed with salmonellosis, an infection caused by Salmonella bacteria. Thorough cooking to an internal temperature of 165 degrees F kills the bacteria.

In the U.S. outbreak, Ruby’s Pantry network of food pantries in Wisconsin and Minnesota distributed the raw frozen breaded chicken patties without realizing they were raw. Labeling did not indicate the chicken was raw. 

A statement from the faith-based, non-profit organization on June 1 reported at least three people in each state had been infected. A formal recall has not been initiated. However, operators of Ruby’s Pantry and health officials in Wisconsin and Minnesota have urged people to discard the implicated chicken.

The outbreak in Canada, which has infected at least 59 people, resulted in Loblaw Companies Ltd. recalling “No Name” brand raw frozen breaded “chicken burgers” on June 2. 

Advice to consumers
Anyone who has consumed the implicated frozen chicken products in the United States or Canada and developed symptoms of salmonellosis should immediately contact their health care provider. Food that is contaminated with pathogens such as Salmonella usually doesn’t look or smell spoiled.

As with any raw chicken, anyone handling frozen raw chicken products should exercise safe food practices to kill foodborne pathogens such as Salmonella. Special care is also necessary to avoid contaminating preparation areas, utensils and hands.

Frozen raw breaded chicken products and raw poultry pieces must be cooked to an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees F (74 degrees C) to ensure that they are safe to eat, according to Canadian officials. Whole poultry must be cooked to an internal temperature of at least 180 degrees F (82 degrees C). 

Health officials recommend the following tips for the safe handling of raw poultry.

  • Wash hands and surfaces often when handling raw poultry.
  • Separate raw meats and poultry from other foods in the refrigerator.
  • Refrigerate or freeze raw poultry promptly after purchasing.
  • Cook all raw poultry to an internal temperature of 165 degrees F.
  • Always follow manufacturer’s instructions provided on product packaging.
  • Place cooked poultry on a clean plate or platter before serving.

Salmonellosis is caused by Salmonella bacteria that are spread by eating or drinking contaminated food or water, or by direct or indirect contact with fecal matter from infected people or animals. Tiny amounts of the bacteria that cannot be seen with the naked eye can contaminate large amounts of food and can be transmitted directly from person to person.

Symptoms of Salmonella infection include diarrhea, abdominal pains, fever, and vomiting that lasts for several days. 

Bloodstream infections can occur, but are rare, and can be quite serious in the very young and older people. Many people recover from salmonellosis on their own, but may require extra fluids to prevent dehydration.

(To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here.)