Remember, FSIS does not consider Salmonella to be an adulterant.
For a bit(e) of reading on the topic, see Seriously, FSIS and Congress, it is time to deem Salmonella an Adulterant
As part of the investigation, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture collected frozen, raw, breaded, stuffed chicken products from a retail store for testing. The raw product samples tested positive for the outbreak strain of SalmonellaEnteritidis. At this time, the production lots tested in Minnesota are not known to have been purchased by any of the case patients. FSIS has not received any purchase documentation, shopper records, or other traceable information at this time. Therefore, FSIS does not have the necessary information to request a recall. FSIS will continue to evaluate any new illness or traceable information as it becomes available. The investigation is ongoing, and FSIS continues to work with the CDC and state partners.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is issuing a public health alert due to concerns about illnesses caused by Salmonella Enteritidis that may be associated with frozen, raw, breaded and pre-browned, stuffed chicken products. These items may be labeled “chicken cordon bleu”, chicken with “broccoli and cheese”, or “chicken Kiev”. This public health alert is being issued to remind consumers about the proper handling and cooking of raw poultry products.
FSIS is investigating a Salmonella Enteritidis illness cluster with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and state partners. FSIS suspects that there may be a link between the frozen, raw, breaded, and pre-browned stuffed chicken products and this illness cluster based on information gathered in conjunction with the CDC and state partners. Cases have been identified with illness onset dates ranging from February 21, 2021 to May 7, 2021.
The CDC reports:
As of June 2, 2021, a total of 17 people infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Enteritidis have been reported from 6 states. Illnesses started on dates ranging from February 21, 2021 to May 7, 2021.
Sick people range in age from 3 to 83 years, with a median age of 52 years, and 60% are female. Of 13 people with information available, 8 (62%) have been hospitalized; no deaths have been reported.
The true number of sick people in an outbreak is likely much higher than the number reported, and the outbreak may not be limited to the states with known illnesses. This is because many people recover without medical care and are not tested for Salmonella. In addition, recent illnesses may not yet be reported as it usually takes 2 to 4 weeks to determine if a sick person is part of an outbreak.
State and local public health officials are interviewing people about the foods they ate in the week before they got sick. Of the 12 people interviewed, 10 (83%) reported preparing and eating frozen breaded stuffed chicken products. People reported buying many different brands of raw frozen breaded stuffed chicken products from multiple stores. When asked about how the products were prepared at home, seven people reported undercooking, microwaving, or air frying the product.
The Minnesota Department of Agriculture collected for testing five raw frozen breaded stuffed chicken products from a grocery store where an ill person purchased these products. The outbreak strain was identified in two samples of Kirkwood’s Chicken Cordon Bleu.
The products of concern may appear to be ready-to-eat but are in fact raw and need to be fully cooked before consumption. Many of these stuffed chicken products were labeled with instructions identifying that the product was uncooked (raw). The labels also identified cooking instructions for preparation in an oven. Some of the patients reported that they did not follow the cooking instructions and reported microwaving the product, cooking it in an air fryer or cooking it in the oven for less than the recommended time and without using a meat thermometer to confirm the recommended temperature was achieved. Thus, FSIS advises all consumers that particular attention needs to be taken to safely prepare and cook these frozen, raw poultry products to a temperature of 165 F. The only way to confirm raw poultry products are cooked to a temperature high enough to kill harmful bacteria is to use a food thermometer that measures internal temperature, as indicated in this chart. Additionally, FSIS advises all consumers to keep raw poultry away from other food that will not be cooked. Use one cutting board for raw poultry and a separate one for fresh produce and cooked foods.
Consumption of food contaminated with Salmonella can cause salmonellosis, one of the most common bacterial foodborne illnesses. The most common symptoms of salmonellosis are diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever within 6 hours to 6 days after exposure to the organism. The illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days. Most people recover without treatment. In some persons, however, the diarrhea may be so severe that the patient needs to be hospitalized. Older adults, infants, and persons with weakened immune systems are more likely to develop a severe illness. Individuals concerned about an illness should contact their health care provider.