Federal health officials are investigating a Salmonella outbreak that has sickened at least 17 people across six states, which appears to be linked to certain frozen stuffed chicken products that are breaded or brown, and not clearly recognized as raw chicken that must be fully cooked before eating.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a Salmonella Enteritidis outbreak update on June 2, warning consumers to exercise caution when eating frozen breaded chicken products, and to always make sure raw chicken is cooked thoroughly and properly handled.
The health officials also highlighted an infographic, “The Raw Story”, which warns that some frozen chicken entrees look like they are cooked, but they’re not. The raw frozen meals, entrees and appetizers need to be handled the same way fresh raw chicken is handled to prevent food poisoning.
According to the CDC investigation, 17 cases of Salmonella Enteritidis have been confirmed out of Arizona (1), Illinois (6), Indiana (3), Michigan (1), Minnesota (4) and New York (2). Of those who have become ill, eight consumers have been hospitalized requiring extended medical treatment.
Laboratory testing of the Salmonella strains by the CDC determined the likely source of this outbreak is from raw frozen chicken products.
Interviews with sickened patients revealed several consumers reported buying different brands of raw frozen stuffed chicken products. Officials are warning consumers to check the packaging of chicken products to determine whether the products are raw, as they may be breaded and appear partially or fully cooked.
The CDC recommends consumers read the packaging, cook the chicken per instructions, use a food thermometer, and clean surfaces and utensils coming in contact with raw chicken products to prevent cross contamination.
For healthy individuals, salmonella food poisoning symptoms typically include diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain lasting between four and seven days. The illness can become worse due to the delay in treatment because the infection can only be diagnosed by testing stool samples and is usually treated with antibiotics.
Among pregnant women, salmonella poisoning may cause still births and miscarriages. Occasionally, salmonella infections may travel through the bloodstream and produce illnesses such as arterial infections, endocarditis and arthritis, which can cause severe to potentially life threatening health consequences.