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CDC: Salmonella outbreak from chicken in frozen meals

By Joe Whitworth+

10-Dec-2013

44 people were sickened in 18 states in 2010 from chicken in a ConAgra entrée, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The case is featured in the latest Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) update .

CDC identified a cluster of 17 human Salmonella enterica serotype Chester clinical isolates in May 2010 with indistinguishable pulsed-field gel electrophores (PFGE) patterns; which had not been reported previously.

ConAgra recalled Marie Callender's Cheesy Chicken & Rice single-serve frozen entrées on June 17 2010.

Isolated from unopened samples

The outbreak strain of Salmonella Chester was isolated from eight unopened samples with three production dates.

Many frozen meals are not "heat and serve" items but "not-ready-to-eat" (NRTE) products that require full cooking before consumption because they might include ingredients that have not gone through a pathogen kill-step process, said the CDC.

The median age of patients was 36 years (range: <1–88 years), 30 (73%) of 41 patients were yonger than 19, and 21 of 39 were female. Among 43 patients with available information, 16 (37%) were hospitalized and no deaths were reported.

USDA-FSIS and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN) and Office of Regulatory Affairs conducted a food safety assessment where the cheesy chicken and rice meal was produced, and did not identify any significant food safety issues.

FDA conducted a traceback investigation into the sources of broccoli, but did not identify any common suppliers.

The review identified a poultry farm as a common supplier of chicken to a chicken cooking facility.

E.coli in ground beef

In another incident, the MMWR detailed an E.coli O157:H7 outbreak associated with raw ground beef in December 2012 - January 2013 in Wisconsin.

Among 17 patients (four with confirmed and 13 with probable cases), 13 were female, and median age was 46 years. Eight had received outpatient medical care; no hospitalizations or deaths occurred.

Fourteen patients reported eating raw ground beef served as tiger meat or cannibal sandwiches and three had exposure to raw ground beef from cross-contamination.

“Tiger meat" or "cannibal sandwiches" involves the raw ground beef being served on rye bread or crackers with onions and is a traditional winter holiday specialty in regions of the upper Midwest.

The market recalled 2,532 pounds of raw ground beef on 15 January. E. coli O157:H7 isolates from four patients and two raw ground beef samples (one in original packaging) collected from two households had PFGE and MLVA patterns indistinguishable from the outbreak strain.

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