Frozen Chicken Safety
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Raw Frozen Chicken Recall
Last week I wrote about the possibility of a food recall of cake mixes due to potential foodborne illness pathogens. This week there’s another in the news. This time it is a full recall of raw frozen chicken products due to an outbreak of Salmonella enteritis.
The outbreak has been tracked in eight states. Twenty-eight people have been sick and eleven hospitalized. Their illnesses have been traced back to frozen, raw, stuffed chicken products. The specific manufacturer identified in the recall is Serenade Foods. If you think you may have these products, check the USDA website for details of where they have been distributed under several brand names nationwide. They are chicken with broccoli and cheese and chicken cordon bleu. Some of these products could have been purchased locally under the Kirkwood brand name at Aldi and at Wal-Mart. If you think you may have some of these in your home, check with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) for details on exact products and what to do.
The big problem with products such as this is that they look cooked and ready-to-eat, but they are not. They need to be fully cooked before eating. The labels give instructions for doing this in an oven. These items cannot be prepared in the microwave or air fryer. The Food Safety and Inspection Service (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.
Another problem is that since these are frozen products they may be in people’s freezers. The best if the used-by date is February 2023.
Consumption of food contaminated with Salmonella can cause salmonellosis, one of the most common bacterial foodborne illnesses. Common symptoms of salmonellosis are diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever within 12 to 72 hours after eating the contaminated product. The illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days. Most people recover without treatment. In some people, however, 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. If you are sick and think you may have had exposure to Salmonella bacteria, be sure to tell your doctor. There are special tests that can diagnose salmonellosis. Salmonella infection symptoms can mimic other illnesses, frequently leading to misdiagnosis. Some people get infected without getting sick or showing any symptoms. However, they may still spread the infections to others.
Salmonella is just one of several bacteria associated with chicken. Others include Staphylococcus aureus, Campylobacter jejuni, Listeria monocytogenes, and Escherichia coli (E. coli). Safe food handling and proper cooking will help keep you and your family safe from bacteria.
This isn’t the first time this type of product has been linked to illness. There have been several recalls in the past few years related to frozen breaded chicken products. Again, the problem seems to be because of breading or grill marks on the chicken, people think they are cooked, when they aren’t. It’s important to read the labels on these types of products to determine if it has been fully cooked using the proper cooking methods.
Tips from FSIS on safe frozen chicken preparation:
- Do not cook frozen chicken in a slow cooker or in the microwave, chicken needs to be thawed before using these appliances.
- Chicken can be cooked from the frozen state in the oven or on the stove. The cooking time may be about 50 percent longer than when cooking fresh or thawed chicken.
- Be sure the chicken is cooked to a safe minimum internal temperature of 165°F as measured with a food thermometer.
Cheryle Syracuse wrote this article and more similar ones for the Family and Consumer Sciences Column in the Brunswick Beacon. Syracuse is an FCS team member and can be reached at N.C. Cooperative Extension, Brunswick County Center, 910-253-2610 or by email at email@example.com.