32 Salmonella Cases Linked to Improper Cooking of Frozen EntreesOct 6, 2008 | Parker Waichman LLP The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) recently issued a statement alerting consumers about the link between 32 cases of salmonella illnesses in 12 states and consuming products such as chicken cordon blue and chicken breast Kiev.
The problem seems to be that those who fell ill did not follow the label’s cooking directions. Apparently, the raw, frozen, breaded, and pre-browned, stuffed chicken entrees appear to be precooked and only require that the entrees be microwaved before consumption; however, cooking the food in the microwave may not be sufficient to kill the bacteria. According to the FSIS, "It is especially important to use a food thermometer to check the internal temperature of these chicken products such that all points of measurement are at least 165° F." The FSIS said the chicken entrees in questions may be labeled "chicken cordon bleu"; "chicken Kiev"; or chicken breast stuffed with cheese, vegetable, or other items.
FSIS is advising consumers to follow the cooking instruction on the packaging and general food safety guidelines when handling and preparing raw meat or chicken to prevent salmonella poisoning and other illnesses.
Salmonellosis is an infection with a bacterium Salmonella and is usually found in food contaminated with animal feces; it is a group of bacteria that passes from the feces of people or animals to other people or animals. Salmonella poisoning can occur when food is improperly stored or handled and when preparers do not wash their hands or sanitize implements involved in meat storage. Salmonella can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Healthy persons infected with Salmonella often experience fever, diarrhea (which may be bloody), nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain and cramping within 12 to 72 hours of infection. Generally, the illness lasts a week. In some, hospitalization is required because the infection may have spread from the intestines to the blood stream and other body sites. Without treatment, severe cases of Salmonella can result in death; however, some Salmonella bacteria are resistant to antibiotics,
largely due to the use of antibiotics to promote the growth of feed animals.
Salmonella contaminations have been the subject of a number of news reports in recent months, including the massive salmonella outbreak that was originally linked tomatoes and later found to have originated from Mexican peppers. Salmonella was also the culprit in the Malt-O-Meal; Alamosa water; dry dog food; Casa Fiesta; and the most recent, Texas IHOP contaminations.
Salmonella poisoning can lead to Reiter’s Syndrome, a difficult-to-treat reactive arthritis characterized by severe joint pain, irritation of the eyes and painful urination. A victim of Reiter’s Syndrome may have already been treated for the initial infection, and it can be weeks before the symptoms of Reiter’s Syndrome become apparent. Reiter’s Syndrome, which can plague its victims for months or years, is said to occur when reactive arthritis is evident and at least one other non-joint area, such as the eyes, skin or muscles, is affected.