The USDA has found more Salmonella in breaded chicken products produced by Aspen Foods which was linked to a July Salmonella outbreak, but the company is refusing to issue a recall. To protect consumers from products produced at the Chicago plant which has a “systemic” Salmonella problem, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA- FSIS) has issued a public health alert and directed its personnel to detain all products covered by the alert found in commerce.
In July, breaded, raw, frozen chicken products such as Chicken Cordon Bleu and Chicken Kiev were linked to an outbreak that sickened three people and hospitalized two of them. On July 16, Aspen issued a recall for products were produced between April 15, 2015 and July 10, 2015 with “best if used by” dates between July 14, 2016 and October 10, 2016.
Since that time, FSIS began increased monitoring at the plant and has found Salmonella in twelve samples. “The twelve positive samples collected during FSIS’ intensified sampling efforts alerted FSIS to a systemic problem at the establishment. FSIS cannot have confidence in the safety of any products produced after July 30, 2015,” the agency said.
The public health alert covers all frozen, raw, stuffed and breaded chicken products produced by Aspen Foods between July 30, 2015 and September 17, 2015. The breaded chicken items were labeled as “chicken cordon bleu,” “chicken Kiev” or “chicken broccoli and cheese” and have the establishment number “P-1358” inside the USDA mark of inspection. They were sold nationwide under the brand names Acclaim, Antioch Farms, Buckley Farms, Centrella Signature, Chestnut Farms, Family Favorites, Kirkwood, Koch Foods, Market Day, Oven Cravers, Rose, Rosebud Farm, Roundy’s, Safeway Kitchens, Schwan’s, Shaner’s, Spartan and Sysco.
Consumers and food service locations who have these products in their freezers should throw them out. Wear gloves when handling the box and carefully clean and sanitize any surfaces it contacts. Dispose of the product by sealing it in a plastic bag so that it does not transmit more disease.
Some of the people sickened in the outbreak reported following the cooking instructions on the label and using a food thermometer to confirm that the recommended temperature was achieved. This indicates that the degree of contamination is so high that consumers cannot safely handle or prepare the chicken products.
Salmonella bacteria live in the intestines of animals and are shed in their feces. Contamination can happen during slaughter and transmit disease when food tainted with microscopic amounts of fecal material is ingested. The infection called, salmonellosis, causes diarrhea that can be bloody, abdominal cramps, and fever. Usually these symptoms develop within six to 72 hours after exposure and last up to a week. But for some people, the diarrhea may be so severe that the patient needs to be hospitalized. Seniors, children and those with weakened immune systems are most likely to develop a severe illness.
Anyone who has eaten these products and developed symptoms of an infection should see a doctor and mention exposure to Salmonella. A stool culture can confirm an infection and determine if it is part of an outbreak.