Salmonella outbreak linked to frozen chicken nuggets in eastern Canada

Published On March 29, 2018 | By Tina Nalova Ikome-Likambi | News

Erie Meat Products Ltd. is recalling Harvest Creek brand chicken nuggets. courtesy Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA)

Chelsea Mendes

If you have some chicken nuggets in your freezer, you might want to check the box.

Erie Meat Products Ltd. is recalling Harvest Creek brand chicken nuggets after a recent outbreak of salmonella in eastern Canada, according to The Public Health Agency of Canada (CFIA).

Harvest Creek chicken nuggets. Courtesy of Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA)

CFIA is  “investigating an outbreak of human illness” related to the recall and members of the public are being warned not to eat the recalled product.

The brand of chicken nuggets, with an expiry date of Oct. 11, 2018 are sold in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Quebec, Newfoundland and Labrador, and have been linked to the outbreak. The health agency is warning consumers who may  eaten the recalled product to seek medical attention.

“If you think you became sick from consuming a recalled product, call your doctor”, CFIA said in a release.

“The CFIA website has a full listing of what to do and if you should be worried,” said director of regulatory affairs for Erie Meat Products Ltd., Linda Bergman.

Bergman said that not all boxes are contaminated, only the boxes with the production date of October. 11, 2018.

“Food contaminated with salmonella may not look or smell spoiled but can still make you sick. Young children, pregnant women, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems may contract serious and sometimes deadly infections. Healthy people may experience short-term symptoms such as fever, headache, vomiting, nausea, abdominal cramps and diarrhea. Long-term complications may include severe arthritis,” said CFIA.

The outbreak first reported in September 2017 left 13 people ill in four provinces. Currently, there are 30 cases of salmonella  and four people have been hospitalized. There have been 17 people in Ontario who have been affected, two in Alberta, seven in Quebec, and four in New Brunswick.

CFIA said that the ongoing food safety investigation may soon result in the recall of other products.

“Unfortunately, food recall situations eventually become a reality for many food companies at some point. Just in the first 3 months of 2018, the CFIA has reported 48 food recalls, 10 of which could be linked to Salmonella,” said Benjamin Bohrer, assistant professor in the Food Science Department at the University of Guelph.

According to WebMD, salmonella is commonly found in raw chicken and frozen raw breaded chicken products. The symptoms of salmonella include; stomach cramps, diarrhea, fever, headache, and vomiting. In serious cases salmonella can cause arthritis.

“Thousands of cases of salmonellosis are reported in Canada each year,” said Bohrer.

The symptoms of salmonella infection usually appear 12–72 hours after infection, and the illness usually lasts 4–7 days, and most people recover without extensive or hospital treatment.

“There are many ways to prevent or control food-borne illness from salmonella,” said Bohrer.

At home, consumers can prevent infection of salmonella by properly storing poultry products (set your refrigerator at 4˚C and your freezer to -18˚C), not exposing product to room temperature for extended periods of time, and cooking raw poultry products to 77˚C and preventing cross-contamination in their kitchen, said Bohrer.

CFIA said that the outbreak is a reminder to properly handle, cook and store poultry, including frozen breaded chicken products to avoid getting sick.

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