Canada reminds public about dangers of undercooked chicken

Frozen raw breaded chicken is the culprit of a recent food-borne illness that left 22 people ill.

With reports of nearly two dozen people in the country stricken ill after eating chicken tainted with salmonella, the Government of Canada is in communication with poultry producers to lower the chances something similar doesn't happen again.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency – a division of the federal government – is cautioning families to make sure chicken is cooked all the way through, with the ideal internal temperature being approximately 165 degrees Fahrenheit. This recommendation comes after the Public Health Agency of Canada received word that 22 individuals – in six different provinces – were sickened after eating frozen raw breaded chicken products that hadn't been cooked properly and contained salmonella. Formally known as salmonella enteridis (SE), the food-borne illness is one of the more common varieties, chiefly found in meat and poultry products. 

Dr. Aline Dimintri, Canada's deputy chief food safety officer, said lowering the chances of being impacted by these illnesses requires a team effort.

"The CFIA is proud to be working side-by-side with our industry partners to protect the health of Canadians from the ongoing risks of salmonella infection associated with frozen raw breaded chicken products," Dimitri explained.

Tainted poultry products detected
The chances of other Canadians being affected by this outbreak is low, CFIA maintains, largely due to the problem poultry being isolated and properly disposed.

Still, the trend is troubling, as in the previous 10 years, salmonella illnesses have trended upward, the most common one being SE. Other varieties include salmonella typhimurium and bongori. 

The CFIA says it's working with the poultry industry and partners to reduce salmonella risk by implementing more due diligence processes that can detect these food-borne diseases before they taint the supply. It's also encouraging consumers to handle and prepare frozen chicken and turkey in the same way they would raw poultry, such as by avoiding cross contamination and always washing your hands.

"The poultry industry's objective is to provide consumers with affordable, safe poultry products, every day," said K. Robin Horel, Canadian Poultry & Egg Processors Council president and CEO. "We will continue to work with CFIA to ensure consumers have access to safe frozen raw breaded chicken products."