Canadian health officials issued an update on the active outbreak investigation of Salmonella illnesses linked to a frozen breaded chicken product yesterday.

Salmonella bacteria (red)/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)
Salmonella bacteria (red)/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)

As of March 1, 2019, there have been 555 laboratory-confirmed cases of Salmonella illness investigated as part of the illness outbreaks across the country: British Columbia (42), Alberta (84), Saskatchewan (18), Manitoba (27), Ontario (201), Quebec (115), New Brunswick (28), Nova Scotia (18), Prince Edward Island (6), Newfoundland and Labrador (12), Northwest Territories (1), Yukon (1), and Nunavut (2).

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There have been 92 individuals hospitalized as part of these outbreaks. Three individuals have died; however, Salmonella was not the cause of death for two of those individuals, and it was not determined whether Salmonella contributed to the cause of death for the third individual.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has issued food recall warnings for twelve products. One product was removed from the marketplace by the retailer.

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Health authorities remind the public to check to see whether you have the recalled frozen raw breaded chicken products in your home or place of business. If you do:

  • Do not use or eat the recalled products. Secure the recalled products in a plastic bag and then either throw them out or return them to the store where they were purchased.
  • 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 warnings, throw it out just to be safe.

Wash your hands with soap and warm water immediately following any contact with a recalled product.

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Beyond recalled food items, frozen raw breaded chicken products may appear to be pre-cooked or browned, but they may contain raw chicken and should be handled and prepared no differently from other raw chicken products.

If you are preparing breaded chicken products, such as nuggets, strips, burgers or fries, the following precautions should be taken to protect your health:

  • Do not eat raw or undercooked frozen breaded chicken products. Cook all frozen raw breaded chicken products to an internal temperature of at least 74°C (165°F) to ensure that they are safe to eat. Use a digital food thermometer to verify the temperature. 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 chicken and roasts during cooking are not suitable for testing nuggets, strips or burgers.
  • Microwave cooking of frozen raw breaded chicken products-including chicken nuggets, strips, burgers, popcorn chicken or chicken fries-is not recommended because of the possibility of uneven heating.
  • Always follow the cooking instructions on the package, including for 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.
  • Do not re-use plates, cutting boards or utensils that have come in contact with frozen raw breaded chicken products to serve the cooked product unless they have been thoroughly washed.

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