The Public Health Agency of Canada collaborated with provincial public health partners, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and Health Canada to investigate an outbreak of Salmonella Enteritidis infectionsin six provinces with cases of human illness linked to frozen raw breaded chicken products. Given there have not been reported illnesses in this outbreak since October 2017, the outbreak appears to be over and the outbreak investigation has been closed.
During the outbreak, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency issued a food recall warning for the following two products:
Janes Pub Style Chicken Burgers – Uncooked Breaded Chicken Burgers (800 g) with a best before date of May 12, 2018 (2018 MA 12) and UPC: 0 69299 12491 0.
Janes Pub Style Snacks Popcorn Chicken – Uncooked Breaded Chicken Cutlettes (800 g) with a best before date of May 15, 2018 (2018 MA 15) and UPC: 0 69299 12542 9.
All products were distributed nationally. These products were linked to this outbreak investigation and therefore the Public Health Agency of Canada advised Canadians not to consume the recalled products.
Since 2015, this was the third national outbreak investigation that has led to the recall of frozen breaded chicken products.
The risk to Canadians is low. Salmonella is commonly found in raw chicken and frozen raw breaded chicken products. Illnesses can be avoided if safe food handling, preparation and cooking practices are followed when preparing these types of food products.
Although the outbreak appears to be over, this outbreak is a reminder that frozen raw breaded chicken products contain raw poultry and should be handled and prepared no differently from other raw poultry products. Always follow cooking instructions carefully and verify the internal temperature after cooking, as recommended, before consuming these products. Frozen raw breaded chicken products must be cooked to an internal temperature of at least 74°C (165°F) to ensure they are safe to eat.
In total, there were 22 cases of Salmonella Enteriditis illness in six provinces: British Columbia (1), Alberta (1), Ontario (12), Quebec (3), New Brunswick (3), and Nova Scotia (2). Eight people were hospitalized. One of the ill individuals died; however, it was not determined if Salmonella contributed to the cause of death. Individuals were sick between June and October of this year. The average age of cases was 41 years, with ages ranging between 0 to 85 years. The majority of cases (59%) were female.
Based on the investigation findings, exposure to frozen raw breaded chicken products was identified as a source of illness. Several individuals involved in the outbreak reported eating Janes Pub Style Chicken Burgers before their illness occurred. Food samples of Janes Pub Style Chicken Burgers (800 g), with best before date 2018 MA 12, and Janes Pub Style Snacks Popcorn Chicken (800 g), with best before date 2018 MA 15, tested positive for Salmonella Enteritidis. The positive food samples had the same genetic fingerprint (using whole genome sequencing) as the cases of human illness reported in this outbreak. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency issued a food recall warning for these products and worked with industry to ensure the product was removed from the retail market.