According to the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) and the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA), a recent outbreak of Salmonella has been traced back to Antioch Farms brand A La Kiev raw stuffed chicken breasts. At least six confirmed victims, including at least one who was hospitalized, have been identified as part of this outbreak. According to Dr. Carlota Medus, an epidemiologist for the Foodborne Diseases Unit at MDH, “our DNA fingerprinting found that the individuals were sickened by the same strain of Salmonella. The Minnesota Department of Agriculture collected samples of the same type of product from grocery stores and the outbreak strain of Salmonella was found in packages of this product.” MDH confirmed that each of the victims became ill after consuming this product in August and September of this year.
The tainted product has been identified as Antioch Farms brand A La Kiev raw stuffed chicken breast bearing the U.S. Department of Agriculture stamp code P-1358. The product is widely distributed in retail stores in white cardboard boxes. It is distributed in the frozen aisle of the grocery store.
This outbreak is reminiscent of a series of Salmonella outbreaks between 1998 and 2004, also linked to stuffed chicken products sold frozen, and which led to these products being more clearly labeled as “raw chicken products,” and requiring proper cooking to an internal temperature of 165 degrees before consumption. According to MDH’s Dr. Carrie Rigdon, “the problem arises when consumers don’t realize that they are handling and preparing a raw product.” But according to national Salmonella lawyer Ron Simon, the concern goes much deeper. “A consumer has the right to trust that when he or she purchases a product from the local grocery store, the product is safe,” says Simon, “even raw chicken should not be sold to the public if it contains enough of a pathogen to make those who eat it sick.” In the last two years, food safety investigators at the USDA, and many state food safety investigators, have been looking into the industry-wide practice of selling poultry contaminated with potentially deadly Salmonella bacteria. And while some in the industry point to improvements, many consumers continue to become ill every year from consuming these products.