Tuesday, May 28, 2019

New measures to counter chicken salmonella

The Public Health Agency of Canada said this week that the industry is adopting new measures to fight salmonella in raw chicken.

That comes after laboratories have confirmed 584 cases of food poisoning were linked to salmonella in raw chicken, including frozen breaded chicken products.

The agency reported the provincial and territorial breakdown: British Columbia (44), Alberta (85), Saskatchewan (18), Manitoba (29), Ontario (215), Quebec (119), New Brunswick (31), Nova Scotia (19), Prince Edward Island (seven), Newfoundland and Labrador (12), Northwest Territories (two), Yukon (one), and Nunavut (two). 

There have been 97 cases so severe the people needed to be in hospitals. Three deaths have been of people infected with these salmonella bacteria, but in two cases the agency said salmonella was not the cause of death and in the third it’s not certain what was the cause.

Despite efforts to address the problem, including many advisories from the Public Health Agency of Canada and health units to cook raw chicken, including frozen breaded products, outbreaks continue.

One that began in September is still active and the tally is 11 sick people in seven provinces and one of them hospitalized.

There have been 18 national recall issues for 15 products, the most recent one earlier this week for Our Compliments brand chicken strips made by Sofina Foods.

Our Compliments is the house brand for Sobeys supermarket chain and related stores, such as Food Basics.

One product was held off the market by a retailer, so no recall was required for it.

All of the salmonella cases have been detected since whole genome sequencing became the standard for testing in May, 2017. It is a precise method to identify the specific strain of salmonella involved in outbreaks, including linking several cases to a single source.

The health agency, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and the companies involved have not said whether the salmonella have been traced to a farm or farms.