The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) has issued a notice about Salmonella illness linked to frozen breaded chicken products.
The PHAC is reminding consumers that frozen items such as chicken nuggets, chicken strips, chicken burgers, popcorn chicken and chicken fries contain raw chicken and although they appear to be cooked, they are not.
“They need to be handled carefully and cooked properly to an internal temperature of at least 74°C (165°F) before they are safe to eat,” notes the PHAC.
Over the past 16 months, federal and provincial health officials have identified hundreds of laboratory-confirmed human illnesses associated with frozen raw breaded chicken products contaminated with Salmonella, because they were not cooked properly.
Food contaminated with Salmonella may not look or smell spoiled but can still make individuals. Young children, pregnant women, the elderly, and people with weakened immune systems may contract serious and sometimes deadly infections. Healthy people may experience short-term symptoms such as fever, headache, vomiting, nausea, abdominal cramps, and diarrhea. Long-term complications may include severe arthritis.
The Government of Canada announced it is working with the food manufacturing industry and food retailers to reduce Salmonella in frozen raw breaded chicken products produced on or after April 1, 2019.
However, the PHAC warns that until April 1, 2019, and most likely a year after that date, frozen raw breaded chicken products containing Salmonella will continue to be in the marketplace and in freezers across the country.
“This is why, collectively, we are stressing the importance of handling and preparing frozen raw breaded chicken products with caution,” said the PHAC.
Consumers are being reminded to always cook raw breaded chicken products thoroughly according to the package instructions to an internal temperature of at least 74°C (165°F) using a digital food thermometer to ensure that they are safe to eat.
As well, handwashing is a must before and after handling these products.
“Following this advice when handling, cooking or eating these products will help reduce you and your family’s chance of becoming infected with Salmonella,” said the PHAC.