Breaded raw chicken products repeatedly a source of salmonella outbreaks, CDC finds

USDA to declare salmonella an adulterant

Salmonella illustration from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (CDC, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

Breaded and stuffed raw chicken products have repeatedly been a source of salmonella outbreaks, according to a study from the CDC.

Between 1998-2022 there were 11 salmonella outbreaks linked to breaded stuffed raw chicken products, like the products found in a store’s freezer section.

The products often have a crispy, browned exterior that makes them look as though they’ve been cooked. According to the CDC, poultry should be cooked to a temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

Even though there have been changes to labels to make it clearer that the chicken is raw, outbreaks are still happening. In the seven most recent outbreaks, 0% to 75% of ill people reported cooking the product in a microwave and reported that they thought the product was sold fully cooked or did not know if it was sold raw or fully cooked.

The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) will be declaring salmonella an adulterant in those products. The declaration will make it so the FSIS can make sure highly contaminated products won’t be sold to consumers, according to officials.

The rule would make it so any product that tests positive for salmonella at 1 colony-forming unit (CFU) per gram prior to stuffing and breading would not be allowed to be sold.

The notice will be published in the Federal Register and FSIS will be seeking public comments. More information will be posted on the FSIS’ Federal Register & Rulemaking page.

Other outbreaks of salmonella are linked to meat, poultry, raw or undercooked eggs and dough, dairy, fruits, leafy greens, raw sprouts, fresh vegetables, nut butters and spreads, pet foods and treats.

What is Salmonella?

Salmonella are a group of bacteria that can cause gastrointestinal illness and fever called salmonellosis.

Most people infected with salmonella will begin to develop symptoms 12 to 72 hours after infection. The illness usually lasts four to seven days and most people recover without treatment.

Symptoms include diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps. More severe cases of salmonellosis may include a high fever, aches, headaches, lethargy, a rash, blood in the urine or stool, and in some cases may become fatal.

Children younger than five, the elderly, and people with weakened immune systems are more likely to have severe salmonellosis infections.

Food safety tips

Following four simple steps at home—Clean, Separate, Cook, and Chill—can help protect you and your loved ones from food poisoning. (CDC)

You should also follow the four steps to food safety when preparing food: Clean, separate, cook and chill.

  • Clean: Wash your hands for 20 seconds with soap and water before, during and after preparing food and before eating. Wash your utensils, cutting boards and countertops with hot, soapy water, after preparing each food item. Rinse fruits and vegetables under running water.
  • Separate: Raw meat, poultry, seafood and eggs can spread germs to read-to-eat foods unless you keep them separate. Use separate cutting boards and plates for raw meat, poultry, seafood and keep their juices away from other foods. Keep raw meat, poultry, seafood and eggs separate from all other foods in the refrigerator.
  • Cook: Cook to the right temperature. Food is safely cooked when the internal temperature is high enough to kill germs that can make you safe. The only way to tell is by using a food thermometer (except for seafood). Click here to learn more about safe internal temperatures.
  • Chill: Bacteria can multiply rapidly if left at room temperature or at temps between 40 degrees and 140 degrees. Divide warm foods into several clean, shallow containers so they will chill faster. Refrigerate perishable food within two hours.

About the Author:

Kayla is a Web Producer for ClickOnDetroit. Before she joined the team in 2018 she worked at WILX in Lansing as a digital producer.