Canada confirms more infections in outbreaks linked to frozen chicken
Federal officials have updated the combined patient count in a string of 14 nationwide Salmonella outbreaks in Canada. Public health agencies report close to 500 people have been confirmed infected. Raw chicken, especially frozen breaded products, are implicated.
As of Oct. 26, there were 474 people who have had laboratory-confirmed Salmonella infections, according to the update from the Public Health Agency of Canada. Of those patients, 90 have required hospitalization. Three of the infected people have died, but health officials say Salmonella did not specifically cause two of the deaths. Investigators are continuing their review of the third death.
“Currently, there are 25 cases of illness in nine provinces linked to this (new) outbreak,” according to the health agency’s Oct. 26 post. “Two individuals have been hospitalized. No deaths have been reported. Frozen raw breaded chicken products have been identified as a source of this outbreak.”
People with confirmed infections in the current Salmonella Enteriditis outbreak are spread from coast to coast. The provinces involved and number of patients are British Columbia 1, Alberta 3, Saskatchewan 3, Manitoba 1, Ontario 12, Quebec 2, New Brunswick 1, Prince Edward Island 1, and Newfoundland and Labrador 1.
On the same day health officials posted news of the most recent outbreak, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) posted a ninth product recall related to the Salmonella infections. Sofina Foods Inc. recalled its Janes brand Pub Style Chicken Burgers on Oct. 26. As with the previous eight recall notices, the CFIA did not name the chicken supplier. Various other companies have recalled chicken products packaged under a variety of brands.
The CFIA created a special page on its website where it is posting all recalls related to the outbreaks
, in addition to posting individual recalls as they are initiated. All of the recalls were “triggered by findings by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) during its investigation into a foodborne illness outbreak,” according to the recall notices. But, the notices do not specify whether those findings include lab tests of product samples.
The first of the 14 Salmonella outbreaks ran from April through mid-May in 2017. Canada’s public health agency reports it documented six other Salmonella outbreaks in 2017 and seven so far this year.
In all of the outbreak reports, the agency has reminded the public to properly handle and thoroughly cook all chicken products. The Canadian Council of Chief Medical Officers of Health repeated that reminder in mid-September, signaling that the threat from potentially contaminated products continues.
“When not thoroughly cooked, frozen breaded chicken products containing raw chicken pose an increased health risk to individuals who handle, prepare or consume them. These products may appear to be pre-cooked or browned, but they should be handled and prepared with caution,” according to the most recent outbreak update.
“Frozen raw breaded chicken products and raw chicken pieces must be cooked to an internal temperature of at least 74 degrees C (165 degrees F) to ensure that they are safe to eat. Whole chicken needs to be cooked to an internal temperature of 82 degrees C (180 degrees F).”
The health agency update says Canada began using whole genome sequencing (WGS) in May 2017 to help identify and respond to outbreaks.
As of Nov. 1, the product recalls posted by the CFIA were as follows.
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