Over the past 16 months, the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) reports that health officials in Canada have identified hundreds of laboratory-confirmed human illnesses associated with frozen raw breaded chicken products contaminated with Salmonella, due at least in part to inadequate cooking or handling. During the same time period, there were also food recalls issued for seven different frozen raw breaded chicken products.
PHAC says that the illnesses continue to occur despite warnings and efforts to educate the public on safe food handling practices. Canadians of all ages are becoming infected with Salmonella because of “consumption of or exposure to improperly cooked frozen raw breaded chicken products.” Salmonella, in severe cases, can lead to hospitalization, or even death.
To help combat these ongoing illnesses, the Government of Canada is partnering with the food manufacturing industry and food retailers to reduce Salmonella in frozen raw breaded chicken products produced on or after April 1, 2019, to below detectable amounts, thereby reducing the risk of illness for everyone who handles or consumes these types of products. However, until April 1, 2019, and likely for up to a year after this date, frozen raw breaded chicken products containing Salmonella will continue to be in the marketplace and in freezers across the country.
In light of this, PHAC is reminding Canadians that most frozen, breaded chicken products do contain raw chicken. This includes chicken nuggets, chicken strips, chicken burgers, popcorn chicken and chicken fries. Even though these products may appear to be cooked, they are not. PHAC is stressing the importance of handling and preparing frozen raw breaded chicken products with caution. Always cook your frozen 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. Wash your hands before and after handling these products, and wash and sanitize the surfaces, dishes and utensils used to prepare and serve them. Following this advice when handling, cooking or eating these products will help reduce the chance of becoming infected with Salmonella.