Amid salmonella illness in Minnesota, companies recall 2 million pounds of chicken
ST. PAUL -- Salmonella illnesses in Minnesota have sparked a nationwide recall of nearly 2 million pounds of stuffed chicken products -- the second major chicken recall this month.
ST. PAUL -- Salmonella illnesses in Minnesota have sparked a nationwide recall of nearly 2 million pounds of stuffed chicken products - the second major chicken recall this month.
Aspen Foods, part of Chicago suburb-based Koch Poultry Co., is recalling frozen, raw, stuffed and breaded chicken that was sold under a number of brands. The chicken may be contaminated with salmonella enteritidis, a common form of salmonella bacteria that can cause severe illness.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service began investigating a cluster of salmonella enteritidis illnesses in Minnesota last month. Three illnesses in May and June were found to be linked to the recalled chicken.
While the recall applies to a variety of brands, all three illnesses in Minnesota were linked to Antioch Farms Cordon Bleu products, said Carlota Medus, an epidemiologist with the Minnesota Department of Health.
The department is also investigating the possibility of other cases of illness being linked to the chicken.
Koch said in a statement this week that it voluntarily agreed to the recall.
The other national recall this month also involved stuffed chicken products that made Minnesotans sick. Barber Foods of Portland, Maine, recalled 1.7 million pounds of frozen, raw and stuffed chicken products after five people in Minnesota became sick with salmonella - specifically from Barber Foods Chicken Kiev. Illnesses linked to the company’s stuffed chicken also occurred in Wisconsin and Oklahoma, Medus said.
The Minnesota illnesses connected to both recalls occurred in the Twin Cities metro and surrounding area. Once the illnesses were linked to the products, Minnesota’s departments of health and agriculture tested Aspen Foods and Barber Foods products for salmonella and found a “very high proportion” had the bacteria, Medus said.
“The majority were positive,” she said.
The recent recalls mean Minnesota has had nine salmonella outbreaks associated with stuffed chicken products since 1998, Medus said.
While the state Health Department once found cases of illness being associated with improperly cooked stuffed chicken products, it is now finding people reporting illness after cooking the products according to directions, Medus said.
“We don’t know why that is happening,” she said.
Medus added that the Health Department has found the connections between the products and illnesses because it does routine testing for salmonella enteritidis and specifically looks at stuffed chicken due to the number of past incidents.
“We consider these products really risky - so much so, that we ask about them routinely,” she said.
The stuffed chicken products in question are flash fried, so while they may look cooked on the outside, they are raw on the inside, and consumers should be just as careful handling them as they are when handling any other form of raw chicken, Medus said.
It’s also recommended that chicken be cooked to an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees.
“With these two recalls, a super-high number of brands have been recalled,” Medus said. “It’s very possible that people don’t realize that they have this product in their freezer.”
Eating foods contaminated with salmonella can lead to salmonellosis, which may cause fever, diarrhea and abdominal cramps. Symptoms last four to seven days, and while most people recover without requiring treatment, some need to be hospitalized. Older adults, infants and people with weakened immune systems are particularly in danger of becoming severely ill from the bacteria.
To find out if a product you have is part of the recent recalls, or for other food safety information, the USDA recommends you direct inquiries to its “Ask Karen” service at askkaren.gov . People can also use the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-674-6854.
The store where the item is sold should also be able to tell you if the product is under a recall.
A list of chicken products being recalled by Barber Foods can be found at http://1.usa.gov/1HzC0Jt .
Recalled products from Aspen Foods were produced between April 15 and July 10 and have “best if used by” dates between July 14, 2016, and October 10, 2016. The chicken also has “P-1358” inside the USDA mark of inspection.
Brands associated with the recall include Acclaim, Antioch Farms, Buckley Farms,
CMarket Day, Oven Cravers,
Rose, Rosebud Farm,
Roundy’s, Safeway Kitchens,
Schwan’s, Shaner’s, Spartan,