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Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

Salmonella outbreaks tied to Chicken Entrees

29 ill after eating chicken entrees, the Star Tribune reports. Frozen, uncooked chicken entrees prompt concern by Minnesota officials who have traced 29 case of illness to insufficient cooking.
Food safety officials said today that 29 people in Minnesota got sick after eating frozen chicken entrees that were not cooked long enough to kill salmonella in the poultry.
Officials recommended against microwaving single-serving chicken products even when it’s listed as an option on labels. The entrees, usually stuffed and pre-browned, are made by several companies, and sold under various brand names in supermarkets’ frozen-food sections.
The entrees carry such names as chicken cordon blue, chicken kiev and chicken with broccoli and cheese. The products of concern contain raw chicken.


Some consumers may have assumed the entrees were pre-cooked and simply heated them in microwaves, said Kevin Elfering, director of dairy and food inspection for the Minnesota Agriculture Department. He said the entrees should be cooked in the oven to 165 degrees internal temperature.
The Minnesota Health Department traced 26 cases of salmonella infection since August to a single strain of salmonella found in products that customers still had in their freezers. Another three cases of illness were traced to a separate salmonella strain. Two earlier outbreaks, the first in 1998, also have been linked to these kinds of entrees, officials said.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently told food makers to revise labels on the products by Nov. 1 to reduce consumer confusion. One company recalled some frozen chicken entrees in March.
State officials said any raw chicken entree poses a potential salmonella risk. “People really need to be wary that they are cooking them sufficiently,” Elfering said.
Salmonella infections can produce diarrhea, abdominal pain and cramps and fever. Symptoms usually begin 12 to 72 hours after exposure but can start later. Most people get better in a week, but one in five end up in a hospital. In rare cases, salmonella infection can lead to death, particularly in the elderly or those with weakened immune systems, the Health Department said.