Salmonella in chicken sickens 30 in Canada

By Joseph James Whitworth contact

- Last updated on GMT

Four Salmonella outbreaks in three years linked to frozen raw breaded poultry
Four Salmonella outbreaks in three years linked to frozen raw breaded poultry
The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) is investigating an outbreak of Salmonella Enteritidis linked to frozen raw breaded chicken.

There are 30 cases from four provinces: Alberta (two), Ontario (17), Quebec (seven) and New Brunswick (four) and four people have been hospitalised.

It comes days after the Government of Canada said it was working with the poultry industry to reduce risk of illness from such products.

Ill people ate frozen raw breaded chicken

Individuals became sick between May 2017 and February and the majority (57%) are male. The average age is 32 with a range from one to 73 years.

Based on investigations to date, poultry, including frozen raw breaded chicken, was identified as a source of illness. There is no recall warning associated with the outbreak as yet.

PHAC said ‘several’ individuals who became ill consumed a mix of poultry and frozen raw breaded chicken products.

Salmonella is commonly found in raw chicken and frozen raw breaded chicken products.Frozen raw breaded chicken products may appear to be pre-cooked or browned but they contain raw chicken and should be handled and prepared no differently from other raw poultry products,” ​said the agency.

“This outbreak is a reminder to properly handle, cook and store poultry, including frozen breaded chicken products to avoid getting sick.

“Frozen raw breaded chicken products and raw poultry pieces must be cooked to an internal temperature of at least 74°C (165°F) to ensure they are safe to eat. Whole poultry must be cooked to an internal temperature of at least 82°C (180°F).”

Four outbreaks in three years

The Canadian government notice said efforts have been made to increase consumer awareness that frozen raw breaded poultry products need to be fully cooked before consumption, as well as attempts by industry to improve labelling and cooking instructions on packs.

In 2015, industry developed additional labelling on such products that included messaging such as "raw," "uncooked" or "must be cooked" as well as instructions not to microwave and introduced adding cooking instructions on inner-packaging bags.

However, such items continue to be identified as a source of Salmonella infection in the country.

PHAC closed an investigation earlier this year into 22 cases of S. Enteriditis in six provinces linked to Sofina Foods Inc’s Janes brand breaded chicken products.

It was the third national outbreak investigation since 2015 that led to the recall of frozen breaded chicken.

In the last 10 years, incidence of Salmonella illness has steadily increased, driven by S. enteritidis, the most common strain of the pathogen in the food supply that is often associated with poultry.

Reducing Salmonella to below detectable amount

CFIA is working with industry to identify and implement measures at manufacturing/processing level to reduce Salmonella to below a detectable amount in products such as chicken nuggets, chicken fingers, chicken strips, popcorn chicken and chicken burgers packaged for retail sale.

The agency said the approach focuses responsibility on the poultry industry and represents a ‘fundamental change’ to existing requirements for frozen raw breaded chicken products.

Measures call for processors to identify Salmonella as a hazard and to implement changes to make an end product that reduces it to below a detectable amount.

CFIA granted industry a 12-month implementation period, starting immediately, to make changes.

"The poultry industry’s objective is to provide consumers with affordable, safe poultry products, every day. We will continue to work with CFIA to ensure consumers have access to safe frozen raw breaded chicken products​," said K. Robin Horel, president and CEO, Canadian Poultry & Egg Processors Council.

Related topics: Food Safety & Quality

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