October 6, 2008

Salmonella Public Health Alert Issued

U.S. government officials are alerting the public about a spate of illnesses in a dozen states caused by Salmonella from frozen stuffed chicken entrees.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service issued the public health alert after Minnesota determined an association between products such as chicken cordon bleu and chicken breast kiev and 32 illnesses in that state and 11 others.

Although many of these stuffed chicken entrees were labeled with instructions identifying the product was uncooked and did not include microwave instructions for preparation -- individuals who became ill did not follow the cooking instructions and reportedly used a microwave to prepare the products.

The federal agency is reminding consumers of the critical importance of following package cooking instructions for frozen, stuffed raw chicken products and general food safety guidelines when handling and preparing any raw meat or poultry.

It is especially important to use a food thermometer to check the internal temperature of chicken products be at least 165 degrees F.

Frozen, raw, breaded and pre-browned stuffed chicken products covered by this alert may be stuffed or filled, breaded or browned, and therefore appear to be cooked, officials said.