Research – Nuggets of Wisdom: Salmonella Enteritidis Outbreaks and the Case for New Rules on Uncooked Frozen Processed Chicken

Journal of Food Protection

In 2014 and 2015, three Canadian Salmonella serotype Enteritidis outbreak investigations implicated uncooked, frozen, processed chicken products produced at the same establishment, namely establishment A. In November 2014, a sustained increase in the number of reported domestically acquired Salmonella Enteritidis cases in Ontario led to the first outbreak investigation, which implicated uncooked, frozen, processed chicken products produced at establishment A. In June 2015, the identification of pulsed-field gel electrophoresis patterns that had not been previously reported in Canada led to a national Salmonella Enteritidis investigation. Of 51 cases reported nationally, 35 were from Ontario. Uncooked, frozen, processed chicken products produced at establishment A were identified as the source of the outbreak, and public health action was taken as a result of this second investigation. In September 2015, a sustained increase in the number of domestically acquired Salmonella Enteritidis PT13a cases in Ontario led to a third outbreak investigation, which identified a total of 36 PT13a cases. Uncooked, frozen, processed chicken products produced at establishment A were again identified as the source of the outbreak. Outbreaks have been linked to uncooked, frozen, processed chicken products since the late 1990s. Information collected during the three outbreak investigations, and from other jurisdictions, suggests that the breaded and prebrowned appearance of the product, as well as factors related to product packaging and marketing, result in consumer misperception that this raw product is cooked. This misperception may result in mishandling and improper cooking. The three outbreaks described in this article highlight the potential ongoing risks to consumers from these products and support interventions to prevent contamination at the source level and infection at the consumer level.

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