Protection against pot pies; blame the consumer – Ottawa style

There’s some sort of frozen chicken thingie outbreak going on in Ontario (that’s in Canada) but public health folks are dancing around the issue.

On June 22, 2010, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health said there was an increase in Salmonella Enteritidis cases across the province, and that a contributing factor was believed to be improper handling of food in the home, including inadequate cooking of breaded, processed chicken products, such as chicken strips, burgers and nuggets.

A public health type is now repeating the message that consumers need to do more with frozen chicken thingies instead of asking, WTF is salmonella doing in frozen chicken thingies?

Yesterday, Ottawa Public Health (OPH) advised residents of an increase in the number of salmonellosis cases reported in the city and is reminding residents to protect themselves by using safe food handling and cooking practices

Dr. Vera Etches, Associate Medical Officer of Health with OPH, said, "A significant number of these cases appear to be related to undercooked or inappropriately stored processed chicken products."

OPH is reminding residents to use safe food handling and cooking practices when preparing all food, and specifically, processed chicken products such as chicken strips, nuggets and burgers. These products are often sold frozen and although they may appear to be partially or fully cooked, many have not been heat treated to destroy bacteria such as salmonella.

At some point Ontario public health may stop blaming consumers who get sick from a microwaved chicken nugget and represent the folks they work for and ask:

• what is salmonella doing in these things;

• are the cooking instructions scientifically verified and clear; and,

• why is the consumer the critical control point on a frozen-looks-cooked-but-may-be-raw chicken thingie?

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About Douglas Powell

A former professor of food safety and the publisher of, Powell is passionate about food, has five daughters, and is an OK goaltender in pickup hockey. Download Doug’s CV here. Dr. Douglas Powell editor, retired professor, food safety 3/289 Annerley Rd Annerley, Queensland 4103 61478222221 I am based in Brisbane, Australia, 15 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time