The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) issued a public health alert due to concerns about illness caused by Salmonella that have been linked to frozen, raw, breaded and pre-browned, stuffed chicken breasts.
The alert was initiated after 32 people in Minnesota and 11 other states became sickened with salmonella poisoning this past week.
While many of the dishes had instructions stating the product was undercooked and did not include microwave instructions, the people who became sick did not follow the cooking instructions and reportedly used a microwave to prepare the entrees, the USDA said in a statement.
The dishes included breaded or pre-browned chicken breasts, some of them stuffed with vegetables or cheese and sold as “chicken cordon bleu” or “chicken Kiev.”
Because the products were often breaded or pre-browned, people assumed the chicken was fully cooked, although they were raw or undercooked.
Salmonella causes the most common foodborne illness, Salmonellosis. Salmonellosis is contracted when a person consumes food contaminated with the bacteria. Food may look and smell normal, yet still be infected with Salmonella bacteria. Person-to-person transmission may also occur.
Salmonellosis causes flu-like symptoms including diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps. These symptoms usually begin 12-72 hours after infection, and will typically last up to a week.
Minnesota was one of 31 states affected by a salmonella outbreak last year – involving Banquet pot pies – that caused 165 people to become ill. Since 1998, Minnesota has been struck by four other outbreaks that have been linked to pre-browned chicken, largely in part, from problems with microwave instructions.
Wash hands with warm, soapy water for 20 seconds or more before and after handling raw meats and poultry. Also wash dishes, cutting boards and utensils with hot soapy water.
When heating frozen chicken, it is best to use an oven when possible.
Keep raw meats, fish and poultry from other food that will not be cooked.
It is important cook meat to a safe internal temperature of at least 165° F – the temperature at which any foodborne bacteria is killed. Use a food thermometer to be sure.
Refrigerate raw meat and poultry within two hours after purchase. Cooked meat and poultry should be refrigerated within two hours after cooking. #