Last week, the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture issued a public health alert raising concerns about illness caused by Salmonella that may be associated with raw, frozen, breaded and pre-browned, stuffed chicken entrees. The alert was initiated after an investigation and testing conducted by the Minnesota Department of Health and Minnesota Department of Agriculture determined there was an association between products such as chicken cordon blue and chicken breast kiev and 32 illnesses in Minnesota and 11 other states.
The stuffed chicken entrees in question were labeled with instructions identifying the product as uncooked, and did not include microwave instruction for preparation. The individuals who became ill did not follow the cooking instructions and reportedly used a microwave to prepare the product.
In connection with the alert, the FSIS provided these recommendations for preventing salmonellosis:
- Wash hands with warm, soapy water for at least 20 seconds before and after handling raw meat and poultry. Also wash cutting boards, dishes and utensils with hot soapy water. Clean up spills right away.
- Keep raw meat, fish and poultry away from other food that will not be cooked. Use separate cutting boards for raw meat, poultry and egg products and cooked foods.
- Cook raw meat and poultry to safe internal temperatures before eating. The safe internal temperature for meat such as beef and pork is 160° F, and 165° F for poultry, as determined with a food thermometer.
- Refrigerate raw meat and poultry within two hours after purchase (one hour if temperatures exceed 90° F). Refrigerate cooked meat and poultry within two hours after cooking.