Blame the consumer, U.S.-style; ConAgra says silly things about its pot pies

ConAgra is continuing with its blame-the-consumer strategy when crappy pot pies make people sick with salmonella – like the 30 confirmed ill with Salmonella Chester linked to Marie Callender‘s Cheesy Chicken & Rice frozen meal.

Teresa Paulsen, a spokeswoman for ConAgra, said the company is investigating the contamination, adding,

"At this point, we are looking at an ingredient as the cause since all tests from our production environment have been negative.”

Some of the ingredients, in particular the protein such as the chicken, are precooked before packaging. She said the package has explicit instructions on how to cook the entree in a microwave or oven.

"If it’s cooked according to package instructions, any pathogen would be killed," she said.

Explicit is not the same as practical. No matter how much the Marie Callender name is supposed to fancy things up, it’s still a pot pie tweens toss in the microwave.

How effective are explicit instructions to teenagers? And why are people the critical control point in the frozen chicken thingie food safety system?

Seattle lawyer Bill Marler, who is representing an Oregon man who was hospitalized four days in May after eating one of the implicated pies, said, "You can’t expect the customer to be the kill step.”

A table of frozen, not-ready-to-eat chicken thingy outbreaks is available at: