May 25, 2024

Salmonella in Raw Breaded Stuffed Chicken Is an Adulterant

Salmonella in raw breaded stuffed chicken products is an adulterant, according to a policy finalized today by the USDA. These items have been linked to many outbreaks in the United States over the last few years. The proposal was released in April 2023.

Salmonella in Raw Breaded Stuffed Chicken Is an Adulterant

These items are declared adulterated when they exceed a specific threshold (1 colony forming unit per gram or higher) for Salmonella. This is part of a broader USDA effort to reduce Salmonella illnesses associated with the raw poultry supply. Contamination in other raw poultry products will be addressed later this year.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a statement, “Under President Biden’s leadership, USDA is taking significant steps toward keeping American consumers safe from foodborne illness. This final determination marks the first time that Salmonella is being declared an adulterant in a class of raw poultry products. This policy change is important because it will allow us to stop the sale of these products when we find levels of Salmonella contamination that could make people sick.”

FSIS will carry out verification procedures, including sampling and testing of the raw incoming chicken component before they are stuffed and breaded. If that chicken does not meet the standard, the product lot can’t be used to produce the raw breaded stuffed chicken products. The determination will be effective 12 months after its publication in the Federal Register.

There have been 14 Salmonella outbreaks associated with these types of products that caused about 200 illnesses since 1998. The most recent outbreak in 2021 sickened at least 36 people in 11 states. Twelve people were hospitalized.

While raw breaded stuffed chicken breasts account for less than 0.15% of the total domestic chicken supply, outbreaks linked to those products constitute about 5% of all chicken-associated outbreaks from 1998 to 2020.

One of the problems with these products is that they are pre-browned and may look cooked, but the chicken is raw. And cooking them from the frozen state increases the risk that the product will not reach a safe final internal temperature. In addition, the breading, which can be contaminated as well, can fall off during preparation and may contaminate other foods and surfaces in the kitchen.

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