Just as a bad penny always turns up, reports of outbreaks of Salmonella infections from raw chicken just keep popping up in Canada. There are open and closed investigations on these sometimes deadly incidents going back almost two years.
And raw chicken isn’t the only source of Salmonella infections in Canada.
As of Jan. 25, the Canadian officials were reporting 529 laboratory-confirmed cases of Salmonella illnesses from across the country. Among the Salmonella illnesses are reports of three deaths and 90 hospitalizations.
Cases have been confirmed in British Columbia (42), Alberta (81), Saskatchewan (18), Manitoba (25), Ontario (187), Quebec (111), New Brunswick (27), Nova Scotia (17), Prince Edward Island (5), Newfoundland and Labrador (12), Northwest Territories (1), Yukon (1), and Nunavut (2).
The government says Salmonella was not the direct cause of death for two of the three of the lab-confirmed patients who died in the outbreak.
Raw chicken, including frozen raw breaded chicken, has been linked by Canadian scientists to some of the Salmonella illnesses. An active investigation connects 54 of the Salmonella illnesses to raw chicken products consumed in 10 provinces.
Those cases included British Columbia (4), Alberta (11), Saskatchewan (1), Manitoba (3); Ontario (20), Quebec (4), New Brunswick (2), Nova Scotia (5), Prince Edward Island (3), and Newfoundland and Labrador (1).
The investigation into the current Salmonella Enteritidis outbreak also brought on the Jan. 25 recall of Crisp & Delicious Chicken Breast Nuggets being sold in British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, and possibly elsewhere in Canada.
Leading the investigation into the Canadian Salmonella illnesses is the Public Health Agency of Canada. “Health Canada provides food-related health risk assessments to determine whether the presence of a certain substance or microorganism poses a health risk to consumers,” according to the agency.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) conducts food safety investigations into possible food sources of outbreaks.
Since government scientists in Canada began routinely using whole genome sequencing (WGS) to identify and track outbreaks, it has turned up 15 national outbreaks involving raw chicken in various forms.
The Public Health Agency of Canada is collaborating with provincial and territorial public health agencies to investigate the outbreaks linked to raw chicken, including frozen breaded chicken products.
On Sept. 13, 2018, Canada’s Council of Chief Medical Officers warned the public about the need to follow proper food safety practices when handling, preparing or consuming frozen raw breaded chicken products, such as chicken nuggets, chicken burgers, popcorn chicken and chicken fries.
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