Canadian officials have posted the 13th recall notice related to more than a dozen Salmonella outbreaks — some ongoing — in their country in the past 22 months. Investigators have traced the outbreaks to frozen breaded chicken nuggets, patties and similar products.

In the latest recall, posted March 21, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency urged consumers to check their homes for certain Janes brand “Pub Style – Chicken Nuggets – Breaded Chicken Cutlettes” and throw them away even if some have been eaten and no one appeared to have become sick. The agency reported the Sofina Foods Inc. distributed the recalled products to retailers nationwide.

The Public Health Agency of Canada continues to warn the public about the dangers of raw frozen breaded chicken products. The agency reported that as of March 1, there had been a total of 555 laboratory-confirmed outbreak victims nationwide. Of those for whom complete information is available, 92 people had to be admitted to hospitals. 

Three of the confirmed patients have died. However, the government reported two of them died because of other conditions present during their salmonellosis. The third patient’s specific cause of death remained under investigation as of the March 1 update.

As of March 1, the federal public health agency was involved in two active national Salmonella outbreak investigations linked to raw chicken including frozen raw breaded chicken products.

“When not thoroughly cooked, frozen breaded chicken products containing raw chicken pose an increased health risk to individuals who handle, prepare or consume them. These products may appear to be pre-cooked or browned, but they should be handled and prepared with caution,” according to the public health warning that has been in place for almost two years.

The March 21 recall marks the fifth time since 2017 that Sofina Foods Inc. has had to recall Janes brand frozen breaded chicken products. Combined, Sofina, Loblaws, and other companies have recalled dozens of such products since July 2017. The first confirmed outbreak illnesses traced to frozen breaded chicken products began in May 2017.

Consumers can look for the following labeling information to determine whether they have the most recently recalled products: Janes brand “Pub Style – Chicken Nuggets – Breaded Chicken Cutlettes” in 800-gram packages with a best-before date code of “2019 DE 15” and a UPC number of  0 69299 12489 7.

The recall was triggered by findings from an investigation into a foodborne illness outbreak, according to the March 21 recall notice. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is conducting a food safety investigation, which may lead to the recall of other products.

Canadian officials credit the introduction of high-tech laboratory testing with helping identify the outbreaks and trace patient illnesses to frozen breaded chicken products.

“In May 2017, Government of Canada scientists began using a new technology called whole genome sequencing (WGS) to help identify and respond to outbreaks. Since that time, federal, provincial and territorial health and food safety partners have investigated 16 national outbreaks linked to raw chicken, including frozen raw breaded chicken products,” according to the most recent update from public health officials.

Salmonella information for consumers
Food that is contaminated with Salmonella bacteria usually does not look, smell or taste spoiled. Anyone can become sick with a Salmonella infection, but infants, children, seniors and people with weakened immune systems are at higher risk of serious illness because their immune systems are fragile, according to public health officials.

Anyone who has eaten any of the recalled products and developed symptoms of Salmonella infection should seek medical attention. Sick people should tell their doctors about the possible exposure to Salmonella bacteria because special tests are necessary to diagnose salmonellosis. Salmonella infection symptoms can mimic other illnesses, frequently leading to misdiagnosis.

Symptoms of Salmonella infection can include diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever within 12 to 72 hours after eating contaminated food. Otherwise healthy adults are usually sick for four to seven days. In some cases, however, diarrhea may be so severe that patients need to be hospitalized. 

Older adults, children, pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems, such as cancer patients, are more likely to develop a severe illness and serious, sometimes life-threatening conditions.

It is possible for some people to be infected with the bacteria and to not get sick or show any symptoms, but to still be able to spread the infection to others.

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