Another scary recall hit stores hard this week when the USDA announced a potential salmonella contamination of nearly 2 million pounds of chicken at Aspen Foods in Chicago, Illinois. The company, which provides product to a number of grocery chains and smaller brands throughout the upper Midwest, was initially alerted to three separate salmonella poisoning cases in Minnesota between May 9 and June 8 this year, prompting them to issue the recall on Wednesday. According to USDA officials, some of the chicken had been shipped nationwide.
"Working in conjunction with Minnesota State Departments of Health and Agriculture, FSIS determined that there is a link between the frozen, raw, stuffed, and breaded chicken products from Aspen Foods and this illness cluster," said a USDA spokesperson in a press release on July 15. "Although the product subject to recall may appear to be cooked, this product is in fact uncooked (raw) and should be handled carefully to avoid cross-contamination in the kitchen."
Officials suggested that anyone who had handled any of the potentially tainted products should treat the situation as if all the products were uncooked, recommending that any surfaces that had been touched by loose breading be sanitized immediately.
"Some case-patients reported following the cooking instructions on the label and using a food thermometer to confirm that the recommended temperature was achieved," they explained. "Therefore, FSIS (Food Safety and Inspection Service) advises all consumers to treat this product like a raw chicken product."
Several market chains, including Aldi and Safeway, have been affected by the recall. So far, the list includes the following brands:
- Antioch Farms
- Buckley Farms
- Centrella Signature
- Chestnut Farms
- Family Favorites
- Koch Foods
- Market Day
- Oven Cravers
- Rosebud Farm
- Safeway Kitchens
The recall also includes specific products within those brands, including products such as breaded chicken cordon bleu and chicken Kiev, chicken Parmesan, chicken with broccoli and cheese, buffalo-style chicken, chicken with plantains, and chicken with ham. A full list of all affected products can be found on the USDA's official site.
To be safe, officials have recommended getting rid of any products that contain "best if used by" dates between July 14, 2016 and Oct. 10, 2016. An establishment number printed inside the USDA mark of inspection on each product reads "P-1358."
According to the CDC, salmonella poisoning (or "salmonellosis") hospitalizes over 19,000 individuals each year, and causes, on average, around 380 deaths nationwide. Side effects often include diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps between 12 and 72 hours after infection. Without treatment, symptoms usually subside after four to seven days, although in severe cases, hospitalization is required.
A recent study out of the University of Maryland suggested that health scares like the Aspen Foods recall could just be ramping up: As summer months heat up, researchers explained, the risk for salmonellosis increases as well, due to violent swings in weather and an increase in algae blooms across large bodies of water that could carry disease with them.
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