01/02/19: Raw Chicken Salmonella Outbreak in Canada Grows to 529 Sick

Raw chicken Salmonella outbreak

A raw chicken Salmonella outbreak in Canada has grown to include 529 laboratory-confirmed illnesses. Ninety people have been hospitalized, and three people have died. However, Salmonella was not the case of death for two of those patients, and it was not determined whether this illness contributed to the death of the third person.

Canada’s Council of Chief Medical Officers of Health issued a statement in September 2018 advising consumers to follow the proper food safety practices when handling, preparing or consuming frozen raw breaded chicken products. One of the issues with these products is that they look fully cooked when they are in fact raw. Another problem is that the breading on these products, which may be contaminated, can fall off before the chicken is cooked and contaminate surfaces in the kitchen.

All of these products need to be cooked to a final internal temperature of at least 74°C, or 165°F and checked with a food thermometer. It’s also important that consumers not cook these products in a microwave oven since the method can leave cold spots and may allow bacteria to continue to grow. And make sure that you wash your hands after handling these foods, along with all utensils that may have come into contact with the raw product.

The illnesses in Canada range all across the country. The case count by province is: British Columbia (42), Alberta (81), Saskatchewan (18), Manitoba (25), Ontario (187), Quebec (111), New Brunswick (27), Nova Scotia (17), Prince Edward Island (5), Newfoundland and Labrador (12), Northwest Territories (1), Yukon (1), and Nunavut (2). There was a similar outbreak in the U.S. in 2015 that was linked to Aspen Foods breaded chicken products, and another linked to Barber Foods raw breaded chicken products.

While anyone can get sick with a Salmonella infection, those most at risk for a serious complication includes the elderly, people with chronic illnesses, and young children. The symptoms of a Salmonella infection include fever, abdominal and stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhoea that may be bloody.

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