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New outbreak underway despite Canada’s new rules for frozen chicken



Canadian consumers are again on alert for Salmonella in frozen breaded chicken, according to a new recall notice and a public health warning about the latest of 18 outbreaks linked to such products since May 2017.

Sofina Foods recalled a different Compliments brand frozen chicken product in response to a similar situation in March.

“This (current) recall was triggered by findings by the CFIA during its investigation into a foodborne illness outbreak. The CFIA is conducting a food safety investigation, which may lead to the recall of other products,” according to the food safety agency.

“The Public Health Agency of Canada is investigating an outbreak of human illness and has identified this product as a source of illness. The outbreak investigation is ongoing and may identify other sources.”

Public health investigators confirmed the link between the recalled frozen breaded chicken products and people with Salmonella infections. As of May 25, there is one active national Salmonella outbreak investigation linked to such products, according to an outbreak notice from the Public Health Agency of Canada.

The current outbreak, associated with the Compliments brand chicken product recalled on May 25, has sickened at least 11 people across seven Canadian provinces. One of the patients has been hospitalized. Federal public health officials have not received any reports of deaths.

“Frozen raw breaded chicken products have been identified as a source of this outbreak,” according to the outbreak notice. “The product was sold nationally until May 1, 2019, but some consumers may still have it in their freezer.”

Consumers can use the following information to determine whether they have any of the recalled chicken strips on hand:

Compliments chicken strips in 907-gram packages;
Best before date of Nov. 24, 2019;
Establishment number of EST 374;
UPC number of 0 55742 33687 0;
Outer package code of 2019 NO 24; and
Inner package code of 3288M

New standards address ongoing outbreaks
Because of the long string of outbreaks related to frozen raw breaded chicken products since May 2017, the Canadian government implemented new industry standards designed to better control Salmonella risks.

“The measures took effect on April 1, 2019, however, it is possible that products produced prior to this date could still be in the marketplace or in people’s freezers for up to a year beyond April 1,” according to the notice from the federal public health officials.

Public health outbreak investigators have linked 14 different frozen breaded chicken products to the 18 Salmonella outbreaks in Canada in the past two years. The CFIA issued recall notices for 13 of the products.

Officials say outbreak detection, investigation and containment are greatly enhanced by the use of whole genome sequencing, which the Canadian government’s scientists began using in May 2017. Since then, federal, provincial and territorial health and food safety partners have investigated 18 national outbreaks linked to raw chicken, including frozen raw breaded chicken products.

As of May 25 there were 584 laboratory-confirmed patients across the country. Of those patients with information available, 97 have been hospitalized. Three have died, but public health officials say Salmonella was not the cause of death for two of them, and, it was not determined whether Salmonella contributed to the cause of death for the third person.

Provinces and the number of people with Salmonella infections are British Columbia with 44; Alberta 85; Saskatchewan 18; Manitoba 29; Ontario 215; Quebec 119; New Brunswick 31; Nova Scotia 19; Prince Edward Island 6; Newfoundland and Labrador 12; Northwest Territories 2; Yukon 1; and Nunavut 2.

For additional information about the Salmonella outbreaks traced to raw, frozen breaded chicken products, please see:New outbreak underway despite Canada’s new rules for frozen chicken