Global & Disaster Medicine

Canada: Public Health Notice – Outbreaks of Salmonella infections linked to raw chicken, including frozen raw breaded chicken products

Public Health Agency of Canada

Why you should take note

The Public Health Agency of Canada is collaborating with provincial and territorial public health partners, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and Health Canada to investigate outbreaks of Salmonella infections across Canada linked to raw chicken, including frozen raw breaded chicken products.

On September 13, 2018, Canada’s Council of Chief Medical Officers of Health issued a statement advising Canadians to follow proper food safety practices when handling, preparing or consuming frozen raw breaded chicken products such as chicken nuggets, chicken strips, chicken burgers, popcorn chicken and chicken fries.

When not thoroughly cooked, frozen breaded chicken products containing raw chicken pose an increased health risk to individuals who handle, prepare or consume them. These products may appear to be pre-cooked or browned, but they should be handled and prepared with caution. Illnesses can be avoided by following cooking instructions carefully and verifying the internal temperature after cooking, as recommended, before consuming these products. Frozen raw breaded chicken products and raw chicken pieces must be cooked to an internal temperature of at least 74°C (165°F) to ensure that they are safe to eat. Whole chicken needs to be cooked to an internal temperature of 82°C (180°F).

Summary of investigations

In May 2017, Government of Canada scientists began using a new technology called “whole genome sequencing” to help identify and respond to outbreaks. Over the past year and a half, federal, provincial and territorial health and food safety partners have investigated 12 national outbreaks linked to raw chicken, including frozen raw breaded chicken products. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has issued food recall warnings for seven products linked to some of these outbreak investigations.

As of September 13, 2018, there have been 419 laboratory-confirmed cases of Salmonella illness investigated as part of the illness outbreaks across the country: British Columbia (36), Alberta (60), Saskatchewan (13), Manitoba (19), Ontario (146), Quebec (98), New Brunswick (23), Nova Scotia (9), Prince Edward Island (1), Newfoundland and Labrador (10), Northwest Territories (1), Yukon (1), and Nunavut (2). There have been 86 individuals hospitalized as part of these outbreaks. Three individuals have died; however, Salmonella was not the cause of death for two of those individuals, and it was not determined whether Salmonella contributed to the cause of death for the third individual. Infections have occurred in Canadians of all ages and genders.

All current and future Salmonella outbreak investigations linked to raw chicken, including frozen raw breaded chicken products, and related food recall warnings will be listed in the next section of the public health notice to remind Canadians of the ongoing risk associated with these types of food products.

Active investigations

Active national Salmonella outbreak investigations linked to raw chicken including frozen raw breaded chicken products, coordinated by the Public Health Agency of Canada:

 

 

September 13, 2018 (update) – Salmonella Enteritidis
September 13, 2018 (update) – Salmonella Enteritidis

 

 

Canadians are advised not to consume the recalled products, and retailers and restaurants are advised to not sell or serve the recalled products.

Information about previously investigated and currently closed national Salmonella outbreak investigations linked to raw chicken including frozen raw breaded chicken products, coordinated by the Public Health Agency of Canada since May 2017 is available at the end of this notice.

Who is most at risk

Anyone can become sick with a Salmonella infection, but infants, children, seniors and those with weakened immune systems are at higher risk of serious illness because their immune systems are more fragile.

Most people who become ill from a Salmonella infection will recover fully after a few days. It is possible for some people to be infected with the bacteria and to not get sick or show any symptoms, but to still be able to spread the infection to others.

What you should do to protect your health

Check to see whether you have the recalled frozen raw breaded chicken products in your home or place of business. If you do:

  • Do not use or eat the recalled products. Secure the recalled products in a plastic bag and then either throw them out or return them to the store where they were purchased.
  • If you do not have the original packaging of a frozen raw breaded chicken product and you are unsure of whether it is included in the food recall warnings, throw it out just to be safe.

Wash your hands with soap and warm water immediately following any contact with a recalled product.

Beyond recalled food items, frozen raw breaded chicken products may appear to be pre-cooked or browned, but they may contain raw chicken and should be handled and prepared no differently from other raw chicken products.

If you are preparing breaded chicken products, such as nuggets, strips, burgers or fries, the following precautions should be taken to protect your health:

  • Do not eat raw or undercooked frozen breaded chicken products. Cook all frozen raw breaded chicken products to an internal temperature of at least 74°C (165°F) to ensure that they are safe to eat. Use a digital food thermometer to verify the temperature. Insert the digital food thermometer through the side of the product, all the way to the middle. Oven-safe meat thermometers that are designed for testing whole chicken and roasts during cooking are not suitable for testing nuggets, strips or burgers.
  • Microwave cooking of frozen raw breaded chicken products—including chicken nuggets, strips, burgers, popcorn chicken or chicken fries—is not recommended because of the possibility of uneven heating.
  • Always follow the cooking instructions on the package, including for products labelled Uncooked, Cook and Serve, Ready to Cook, and Oven Ready.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water before and after handling frozen raw breaded chicken products.
  • Use a separate plate, cutting board and utensils when handling frozen raw breaded chicken products to prevent the spread of harmful bacteria.
  • Do not re-use plates, cutting boards or utensils that have come in contact with frozen raw breaded chicken products to serve the cooked product unless they have been thoroughly washed.

Foods carrying Salmonella may look, smell and taste normal, so it’s important to follow safe food-handling tips for buying, chilling, thawing, cleaning, cooking, and storing any chicken products:

  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water before and after handling all types of raw chicken.
  • Always follow the cooking instructions provided on the package. Cook chicken to a safe internal temperature that has been checked using a digital thermometer. Raw chicken pieces should be cooked to an internal temperature of 74°C (165°F). Whole chicken should be cooked to an internal temperature of 82°C (180°F).
  • Keep raw chicken away from other food while shopping, storing, repackaging, cooking and serving foods.
  • Never rinse chicken before using it because the bacteria can spread everywhere the water splashes, creating more of a hazard.
  • Use warm, soapy water to clean knives, cutting boards, utensils, your hands, and any surfaces that have come in contact with food, especially meat, chicken and fish.
  • If you have been diagnosed with a Salmonella infection or any other gastrointestinal illness, do not cook food for other people.
  • For more information, read our poultry safety fact sheet.

Symptoms

Symptoms of a Salmonella infection, called salmonellosis, typically start 6 to 72 hours after exposure to Salmonella bacteria from an infected animal or contaminated product.

Symptoms include:

  • fever
  • chills
  • diarrhea
  • abdominal cramps
  • headache
  • nausea
  • vomiting

These symptoms usually last for four to seven days. In healthy people, salmonellosis often clears up without treatment. In some cases, severe illness and hospitalization may occur. In some cases, antibiotics may be required. People who are infected with Salmonella bacteria can be infectious from several days to several weeks. People who experience symptoms, or who have underlying medical conditions, should contact their health care provider if they suspect they have a Salmonella infection.

What the Government of Canada is doing

The Government of Canada is committed to food safety. The Public Health Agency of Canada leads the human health investigation into an outbreak and is in regular contact with its federal, provincial and territorial partners to monitor the situation and to collaborate on steps to address an outbreak.

Health Canada provides food-related health risk assessments to determine whether the presence of a certain substance or microorganism poses a health risk to consumers.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency conducts food safety investigations into the possible food source of an outbreak.

The Government of Canada will continue to update Canadians as new information related to these investigations becomes available.

Additional information

Media Contact

Public Health Agency of Canada
Media Relations
(613) 957-2983
hc.media.sc@canada.ca

Public Inquiries

Call toll-free: 1-866-225-0709
Email: info@hc-sc.gc.ca

 


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