Like a broken record playing over and over again, food recalls keep on coming. Federal officials have now identified specific stores where recalled frozen, raw, and breaded chicken products were sold. These products, manufactured by Serenade Foods in Indiana, include almost 60,000 pounds of chicken. So far, eight states have reported salmonella sickness, including New York, Illinois, Arizona, Connecticut, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, and Nevada, where 28 people have become sick, and 11 have been hospitalized.
According to a CDC news release, “The outbreak strain of salmonella was found in unopened packages of raw frozen breaded stuffed chicken that were collected from a sick person’s home.” Of course, consumers are being encouraged to return unopened food items to the store purchased for a full refund.
Specific stores involved in the recall include Walmart, Aldi, Save-A-Lot, and Food 4 Less. More retailers may be added as the case unfolds. Check here to see which stores have been added.
Branded products that have been recalled include:
- Dutch Farms Chicken with Broccoli & Cheese (lot code BR 1055; best if used by Feb 24, 2023)
- Milford Valley Chicken with Broccoli & Cheese (lot code BR 1055; best if used by Feb 24, 2023)
- Milford Valley Chicken Cordon Bleu (lot code BR 1055; best if used by Feb 24, 2023)
- Kirkwood Raw Stuffed Chicken, Broccoli & Cheese (lot code BR 1055; best if used by Feb 24, 2023)
- Kirkwood Raw Stuffed Chicken Cordon Bleu (lot code BR 1056; best if used by Feb 25, 2023)
Salmonella sickness can be deadly
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ( CDC), there are about 1.35 million cases of salmonellosis each year, resulting in 26,500 hospitalizations and 420 deaths. Contaminated food is the source of the majority of these cases.
Salmonella lives in the intestinal tracts of humans and other animals and is one of the top causes of food poisoning worldwide. It is a general term for about 2,000 closely related bacteria that cause illness by multiplying in the digestive tract. Humans are generally infected by consuming foods that are contaminated with animal feces. Person-person transmission occurs when an infected person’s feces, unwashed from their hands, contaminates food during preparation or comes in direct contact with another person.
While foods contaminated by salmonella are generally animal in origin, including beef, poultry, eggs and dairy, fruits and veggies, and other processed, packaged foods, even spices can become cross-contaminated.
For instance, the massive cucumber Salmonella outbreak of 2015 spread like wildfire through the country, leaving over 900 people sick, 204 hospitalized, and six dead. Kellogg’s Honey Smacks recall in 2018 that sickened over 70 people in 31 states, sending 24 to the hospital.
The tricky part is that contaminated foods don’t generally look or smell any different than non-contaminated foods. This means we don’t hear about a contamination outbreak until someone becomes ill and the illness is investigated.
Symptoms of salmonella poisoning include:
- Muscle aches
Symptoms typically start six hours to six days after infection and can last anywhere between four to seven days. Some symptoms may be so severe that hospitalization is required.
Here’s what to do during a recall
- Visit foodsafety.gov for recent recalls.
- Check your freezer, refrigerator, and cupboards for the product.
- If you have the recalled product in your home, read the food label and compare it to the manufacturer’s lot codes on the recall notice. If it’s a match, do not eat it or feed it to your pets.
- Follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer or grocery store regarding returning or disposing of the product.
Who is touching your food?
None of us go to the grocery store seeking out contaminated food. We all want a safe, diverse, affordable, and abundant food supply all year long. Because of the demand, America imports about 15 percent of its overall food supply. Today, more than 200 countries or territories and about 125,000 food facilities and farms provide about 32 percent of fresh veggies, 55 percent of fresh fruit, and 94 percent of seafood that Americans eat each year. This, in and of itself, creates challenges when it comes to food safety.
Congress passed the FDA Food Safety and Modernization Act ( FSMA) in 2011. This act shifted the focus of federal regulators into more of a prevention mode regarding food contamination. There have been new standards applicable to foreign and domestic food growers, manufacturers, processors, packers, and holders, but there is much work still to be done in food safety.
One of the best ways to keep safe is to know where your food is coming from and grow as much as you can on your own. Eliminating the many hands that touch your food is a great first step in reducing your risk of food poisoning. Eat local, eat fresh, and eat in season are excellent rules to follow.
An excellent place to start is your community farmers’ market. You can meet local farmers who often specialize in just a few things, whether meat, poultry, vegetables, or fruit. This allows you to know where your food is grown. Many local farmers will allow you to visit their farms to check out the source of your sustenance. It’s a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon!
More ways to prevent food poisoning
Additionally, here are some things you can practice at home to further decrease the risk of contamination:
- Wash your hands before handling any food and in between handling different foods
- Wash hands after using the bathroom, blowing your nose, or touching animals
- Wash counters, knives, and utensils before preparing food – hot water and soap work great!
- Keep your kitchen towels and dishcloths clean – don’t leave them damp – this is the perfect place for germs to spread.
- Use separate cutting boards for raw food and fish.
- Keep meat away from any ready-to-eat foods such as fruit, bread, and salad. Store raw meat on the bottom shelf in the fridge where it is less likely to touch other food.
- Cook all meat thoroughly.
- Keep your refrigerator set to below 41 degrees F and avoid overfilling.
- Cool cooked food that you are not going to eat within 90- minutes and store in the fridge or freezer.
- Use leftovers within two days and never reheat the same food more than two times.
- Don’t ever consume food that is past its use-by date.
Stay safe and eat well,
-The Backyard Garden Team