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Nationwide salmonella scare prompts Nunavut public health alert Most breaded chicken products can cause salmonella; chili powder also fingered

If you’ve got store-bought frozen chicken in your freezer, be careful how you cook it.

Because if you aren’t, you and your family could get very sick.

Officials from Nunavut’s Health Department have joined a nationwide campaign aimed at warning Canadians about the dangers posed by food products, especially raw chicken, that are infected with the bacteria that causes salmonella.

“Most frozen breaded chicken products available for sale in grocery stores in Canada contain raw chicken that can cause salmonella illness and therefore pose an increased health risk to Canadians who handle, prepare or consume them,” said a statement issued on Sept. 13 by the Council of Chief Medical Officers of Health.

The council represents public health officers in every province and territory.

Across Canada, 419 people have fallen ill with laboratory-confirmed salmonella since May 2017. That includes two people from Nunavut.

Salmonella is bacteria that can cause a nasty infection in your intestines. The symptoms include fever, chills, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, headache, nausea and vomiting.

People with weak immune symptoms, such as infants, small children and the elderly, are at the greatest risk of suffering severe complications from the disease.

In addition to the dangers posed by frozen chicken, Nunavut public health officials have also issued a warning about Compliments brand chili powder, which comes in 155-gram packages.

The code on the recalled Compliments brand chili powder product is 2020 MA 26.

“This recalled product should be thrown out or returned to the location where it was purchased,” the Government of Nunavut said last week in a public health advisory.

As for frozen chicken products, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency has issued seven recall warnings since July 2017.

The recalled brands include various batches of No Name chicken nuggets, Harvest Creek chicken nuggets, Janes Pub Style chicken burgers, Presidents Choice pub recipe chicken burgers and other products.

You can find a full list of the recalled products here.

The Public Health Agency of Canada offers the following advice if you find recalled products in your freezer:
• Do not use or eat the recalled products. Secure the recalled products in a plastic bag and then either throw them out or return them to the store where they were purchased.
• If you do not have the original packaging of a frozen raw breaded chicken product, and you are unsure of whether it is included in the food recall warnings, throw it out just to be safe.
• Wash your hands with soap and warm water immediately following any contact with a recalled product.
And when cooking chicken products they advise that:
• Raw chicken pieces should be cooked to an internal temperature of 74°C (165°F). Whole chicken should be cooked to an internal temperature of 82°C (180°F).
• Warm, soapy water should be used to clean knives, cutting boards, utensils, your hands, and any surfaces that have come in contact with food, especially chicken and fish.
• Never rinse chicken before using it because the bacteria can spread everywhere the water splashes, creating more of a hazard.

You can find more advice from the Public Health Agency of Canada.