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Nearly 500 sick as FSA renews breaded chicken warning

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Public health officials in the United Kingdom are continuing to investigate an outbreak of Salmonella infections linked to raw breaded chicken.

From January this year, there have been 480 patients confirmed with salmonellosis caused by two strains of Salmonella Enteritidis and linked to consumption of frozen, raw, breaded chicken products.

The first warning came in October 2020 when almost 400 people were sick, mainly in England but also in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Renewed warning
The Food Standards Agency (FSA), Food Standards Scotland (FSS), Public Health England (PHE), Public Health Scotland and Public Health Wales said people need to take care when storing, handling and cooking chicken items at home, such as nuggets, goujons, dippers, poppers and kievs.

Inadequate cooking and cross-contamination in the kitchen during food preparation can lead to salmonellosis.

For patients where information is available, a third have needed hospital treatment and four people have died. It is not known whether Salmonella infection was a contributory factor in the deaths, and one fatality was attributed to COVID-19.

The majority of those sick are aged 16 years old or younger and more males are affected than females.

Ian McWatt, FSS deputy chief executive, said 42 people are sick in the country.

“While the numbers of cases in Scotland related to this outbreak remain relatively low, it is important to remind people that they should always check and follow the cooking instructions on food packaging, as different brands of the same product may have different preparation processes. Ideally, these products need to be handled as other types of raw chicken,” he said.

Further recalls
Two recalls were issued this past week bringing the total to six in connection with the incident. The chicken products are from Poland.

The first action saw SFC recall certain batches of SFC chicken poppets in 190-gram packages with best before dates of Sept. 24 and Oct. 31, 2021, and Feb. 28, 2022, and take home boneless buckets in 650-gram packages with a best before date of Nov. 28, 2021, because Salmonella was found in the products.

The second was Vestey Foods’ recall of Chick Inn 32 jumbo chicken nuggets in 650-gram packages because of Salmonella. The product has a best before of end of January 2022 and was sold at Heron Foods, B&M, and B&M Express stores.

Previous recalls have been conducted by supermarkets Lidl, Aldi and Iceland.

Colin Sullivan, chief operating officer at the FSA, said: “Cooking food at the right temperature and for the correct length of time will ensure that any harmful bacteria are killed.”

The renewed warning was because of the long shelf life of products and the fact that infections caused by these Salmonella strains continue to be recorded, according to the FSA.

Saheer Gharbia, head of the gastrointestinal pathogens unit of PHE’s National Infection Service, said: “Cases continue to be reported, albeit at lower levels than last year, following the control measures taken to date.”

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