Canada: Raw frozen chicken thingies outbreaks

We’ve done extensive work on this topic dating back to 2006 (search, but new tools, like whole genome sequencing, mean additional outbreaks have been identified. A summary paper of recent outbreaks has just been published. Abstract below:

Frozen raw breaded chicken products (FRBCP) have been identified as a risk factor for Salmonella infection in Canada. In 2017, Canada implemented whole genome sequencing (WGS) for clinical and non-clinical Salmonella isolates, which increased understanding of the relatedness of Salmonella isolates, resulting in an increased number of Salmonella outbreak investigations. A total of 18 outbreaks and 584 laboratory-confirmed cases have been associated with FRBCP or chicken since 2017. The introduction of WGS provided the evidence needed to support a new requirement to control the risk of Salmonella in FRBCP produced for retail sale.

Outbreak of salmonella illness associated with frozen raw breaded chicken products in Canada 2015-2019

22 August 2019

Epidemiology and Infection vol. 147

  1. K. Morton(a1)A. Kearney(a2)S. Coleman (a3)M. Viswanathan (a1)K. Chau (a4)A. Orr (a5)and A. Hexemer (a1) 


Chicken livers sicken with salmonella

In a new twist to the on-going saga of frozen, not-ready-or-ready-to-eat chicken thingies (below, left), broiled chicken liver products that are linked to a cluster of Salmonellosis illnesses in New Jersey and New York, have been recalled.

No word on how many people are sick.

The illnesses are linked to the consumption of broiled chicken livers which appear to be ready-to-eat, but are in fact partially cooked and need to be fully cooked before consumption. See, it says so on the label (right). Illnesses are also linked to chopped liver made from this product at retail stores. The outbreak strain of Salmonella Heidelberg was isolated by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Market from samples of broiled chicken livers from the establishment, and chopped chicken livers produced at retail from these livers. These products would have been repackaged and will not bear the original packaging information.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) said Schreiber Processing Corporation, a Maspeth, N.Y. establishment, is recalling an undetermined amount of broiled chicken liver products.

The outbreak strain PFGE pattern does not match another strain of Salmonella Heidelberg associated with ground turkey recalled earlier this year. It is not known at this time if this outbreak strain has any drug resistance, but any finding of drug resistance will be made public by FSIS once it becomes available.

The products subject to recall include:
• 10 lb. boxes with two, 5 lb. bags of "Meal Mart Broiled Chicken Liver; Made for Further Thermal Processing"
• 10 lb. boxes of loose packed "Chicken Liver Broiled"

Salmonella increase in Ontario probably related to frozen chicken thingies, but no one will say

In the interest of open and transparent discussion, Ontario public health types are asking the public to sit quietly and obey food safety rules because they are the critical control point when it comes to raw, frozen chicken thingies.

Dr. Vera Etches, associate medical officer of health with.Ottawa Public Health (OPH, that’s in Canada) said,

"Since the first of June, 23 cases of salmonella have been reported to OPH, almost double the number of cases typically seen this time of year. 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.

I’m waiting for the day when a public health type will stop blaming consumers and ask the industry, why is their salmonella in your frozen, cooked product, and stop selling raw and cooked product side-by-side because they look the same.