A Salmonella Enteritidis outbreak in Canada has sickened 59 people and prompted a recall of “no name” brand raw, frozen, breaded chicken patties. The recall came one day after U.S. officials announced a Salmonella outbreak that is also linked to raw, frozen, breaded chicken.

In Canada, Loblaw Companies Ltd. initiated a nationwide recall for the “no name”  raw chicken product on June 2, according to a notice posted by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. Whole genome sequencing confirmed the outbreak strain of Salmonella in a sample of the “chicken burgers.” 

Also on June 2, the Public Health Agency of Canada went public with its outbreak investigation, reporting that 59 people became ill between March 4 and May 6. There likely will be additional people added to the case count because of the lag time between when patients become ill and when confirmed reports are provided to federal officials. 

On June 1, public health officials in Wisconsin and Minnesota reported a Salmonella outbreak linked to raw, frozen breaded chicken products distributed by Ruby’s Pantry food pantry locations. Those products had minimal labeling and did not include cooking instructions. As of June 2, no recalls had been initiated in the United States in relation to the outbreak. 

Neither U.S. nor Canadian officials have made any statements about whether the outbreaks are related or whether the implicated chicken is from the same supplier.

The Loblaw’s recall includes a warning urging consumers to check their home freezers for the raw frozen chicken product. Public health officials are concerned its long shelf life will result in people consuming it in the coming months because they are unaware they have food that has been recalled. 

The recalled chicken has a date code of Feb. 6, 2019, on the outer package. Other label information that consumers can use to identify the 1-kilogram packages of chicken recalled by Loblaw Companies is a code of 0378M on the inner package and the UPC number 0 60383 16636 6. 

Both the CFIA and Canada’s federal health agency say the unbranded, raw frozen chicken patties are not safe to eat.

“Do not use or eat the recalled product. Secure the recalled product in a plastic bag and throw it out or return it to the store where it was purchased,” the Public Health Agency of Canada’s outbreak notice says. 

“If you do not have the original packaging of a frozen raw breaded chicken product and you are unsure of whether it is included in the food recall warning, throw it out just to be safe.”

Additional products may be recalled as the CFIA progresses with its investigation.

Advice to consumers
Anyone who has consumed the recalled “no name” frozen chicken and developed symptoms of salmonellosis should immediately contact your 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 74 degrees C (165 degrees F) to ensure that they are safe to eat, according to Canadian officials. Whole poultry must be cooked to an internal temperature of at least 82 degrees C (180 degrees F). 

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 165ºF.
  • 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.

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