U.S. and Minnesota health officials are investigating two outbreaks of Salmonella enteritidis sickening people who eat raw, frozen, breaded, and pre-browned stuffed chicken entrees sold under the brand name Barber Foods and Antioch Farms.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Minnesota’s Department of Health and Department of Agriculture identified two outbreaks that sickened seven people, four of whom were hospitalized. Health officials warn that the outbreak may be bigger and more widespread as most cases of food-related illness go unreported.
In the first outbreak, the Minnesota Department of Health identified four people sickened by Salmonella after eating Barber Foods brand Chicken Kiev. Those illnesses occurred between April 5 and June 8. Two people were hospitalized.
In the second salmonella outbreak, three people were infected with a different strain of Salmonella enteritidis after consuming Chicken Cordon Bleu stuffed chicken breasts made by Antioch Farms. The onset dates for those illnesses, which led to two hospitalizations, occurred from May 9 to June 8.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) issued a public health alert on July 1, warning consumers that the raw, salmonella-contaminated products look similar to products that are pre-cooked and ready to eat. Some of the patients reported following the cooking instructions on the packaging and using a food thermometer to confirm that the recommended temperature of 165 degrees was achieved, the USDA said.
On July 2, Barber Foods of Portland, Maine, issued a recall of nearly 60,000 pounds of Chicken Kiev possibly contaminated by Salmonella, including a 2 lb.-4 oz. box containing six individually pouched pieces of “Barber Foods Premium Entrees Breaded-Boneless Raw Stuffed Chicken Breasts with Rib Meat Kiev” with use by/sell by dates of April 28, 2016, May 20, 2016, and July 21, 2016. The recalled products were sold at Sam’s Club locations in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Illinois.
The CDC recommends that people check their freezers for the recalled products and avoid eating them.
No recall of the Archer Farms products has been announced, but consumers are cautioned to handle all raw chicken products carefully and cook them according to the instructions on the package.
Salmonellosis, usually caused by the consumption of contaminated food, is one the most common bacterial foodborne illnesses. Symptoms commonly include diarrhea, abdominal cramps, nausea, and fever within 12 to 72 hours after exposure. The illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days, and most people recover without treatment.
In some persons, however, the illness can become so severe that the patient needs to be hospitalized, usually from dehydration as a result of severe diarrhea. Older adults, infants, and persons with weakened immune systems are most at risk of developing severe forms of Salmonellosis and complications.