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Salmonella Enteritidis Outbreak in Canada Linked to Poultry Sickens 30

The Public Health Agency of Canada is collaborating with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and Health Canada to investigate an outbreak of Salmonella Enteritidis infections in four provinces. These illnesses are linked to poultry, including frozen raw breaded chicken products.

There are 30 patients in four provinces. The case count by province is Alberta (2), Ontario (17), Quebec (7), and New Brunswick (4). Four people have been hospitalized because they are so seriously ill. These patients got sick between May 2017 and February 2018. Most of the patients are male.

The findings to date incidence that exposure to poultry, including frozen raw breaded chicken products, has been identified as the illness source. No food recall warning is associated with this outbreak, and the investigation is ongoing.

Similar outbreaks have been reported in the United States in the past. In 2015, one of the largest multistate food poisoning outbreaks of the year was linked to frozen Chicken Kiev produced by Barber Foods. That Salmonella Enteritidis outbreak sickened 15 people in seven states. Another Salmonella outbreak linked to raw, frozen breaded chicken entrees produced by Aspen Foods that same year sickened 5 people.

These outbreaks are a good reminder that these products, which look as though they are completely cooked, are actually completely raw and must be handled carefully. Cross-contamination between these products and kitchen surfaces and utensils must be carefully avoided. The breading, which can be contaminated along with the chicken, can fall off and contaminate kitchen sinks, floors, countertops, drawer handles, utensils, and plates. Cooking instructions must be followed to the letter, and all of these products should be cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 165°F before they are safe to eat. That temperature should be verified with a reliable food thermometer.

In addition, wash your hands well with soap and warm water after handling all types of poultry. Follow package cooking instructions. And keep raw poultry away from other foods while you are shopping, and while storing, repackaging, cooking, and serving foods. Never rinse poultry before using it because that action can spread bacteria around your kitchen.

Microwaving these types of products can be tricky. Most microwaves have cold spots and these appliances can heat food unevenly. Microwave cooking of frozen raw breaded poultry products, including chicken nuggets, strips, or burgers is not recommended.

The symptoms of a Salmonella infection include fever, chills, diarrhea that may be bloody, abdominal craps, headache, nausea, and vomiting. Symptoms usually begin 12 to 72 hours after you are exposed to the bacteria. If you are experiencing these symptoms, see your doctor.