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Sunday, March 30, 2008

Public Health Alert for Frozen, Stuffed Raw Chicken Products

WASHINGTON, March 29, 2008 - The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is issuing a public health alert due to illnesses from Salmonella associated with frozen, stuffed raw chicken products that may be contaminated with Salmonella.
FSIS is reminding consumers of the crucial importance of following package 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 that these products be cooked in a conventional oven.

All poultry products should be cooked to a safe minimum internal temperature of 165° Fahrenheit as determined by a food thermometer. Using a food thermometer is the only way to know that food has reached a high enough temperature to destroy foodborne bacteria.

Frozen raw chicken breast products covered by this alert and similar products, may be stuffed or filled, breaded or browned such that they appear to be cooked. These items may be labeled "chicken cordon bleu," "chicken kiev" or chicken breast stuffed with cheese, vegetables or other items.

This public health alert was initiated after an investigation and testing conducted by the Minnesota Department of Health and Minnesota Department of Agriculture determined that there is an association between the products listed below and 2 illnesses. The illnesses were linked through the epidemiological investigation by their PFGE pattern (DNA fingerprint).

Products linked to the illnesses were produced by Serenade Foods, a Milford, Ind., establishment. Products include "Chicken Breast with Rib Meat Chicken Cordon Bleu" and "Chicken Breast with Rib Meat Buffalo Style" sold under the brand names "Milford Valley Farms," "Dutch Farms" and "Kirkwood." The individually wrapped, 6-ounce products were produced on January 21, 2008 (date code C8021 is printed on the side of the package).

Each of these packages bears the establishment number "Est. P-2375" inside the USDA mark of inspection. These specific products were distributed to retail establishments in Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, North Dakota, Vermont and Wisconsin.

Consumption of food contaminated with Salmonella can cause salmonellosis, one of the most common bacterial foodborne illnesses. Salmonella infections can be life-threatening, especially to those with weak immune systems, such as infants, the elderly and persons with HIV infection or undergoing chemotherapy. The most common manifestations of salmonellosis are diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever within eight to 72 hours. Additional symptoms may be chills, headache, nausea and vomiting that can last up to seven days.

Consumers with food safety questions can "Ask Karen," the FSIS virtual representative available 24 hours a day at AskKaren.gov. The toll-free USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) is available in English and Spanish and can be reached from l0 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Eastern Time) Monday through Friday. Recorded food safety messages are available 24 hours a day.
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