Federal food officials have issued a salmonella warning after an outbreak in Minnesota was linked to breaded chicken products.
In a public health alert issued Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) said Minnesota reported two salmonella outbreaks last month, on June 23 and another June 24.
It is believed that the cause of the outbreaks is "frozen, raw, breaded and pre-browned stuffed chicken products," including chicken cordon bleu and chicken kiev, which were eaten by Minnesotans who fell ill between April 5 and June 8.
A release from the Minnesota Department of Health said that four people aged between 19 and 82 fell ill from April 5, with the illness linked to Barber Foods Chicken Kiev products, with a USDA stamped code of P-276.
They were all from the metro area, with two requiring hospital treatment.
In the second outbreak, that started May 9, three people aged in their 30s and 40s from the metro area got sick after eating Antioch Farms brand Cordon Bleu stuffed chicken breast, with the USDA stamp code P-1358. Two were hospitalized.
Part of the problem may be that the victims had not cooked the chicken thoroughly, with the products themselves appearing to be ready to eat given they are breaded and pre-browned, but are in fact raw underneath.
However, some of those who fell ill did say they followed the cooking instructions and even used a food thermometer to check the poultry was cooked through.
The FSIS warned people to keep raw poultry away from other food that will not be cooked, saying people should use one cutting board for meat and a separate one for other foods.
It also said that to be safe, people cooking chicken should use an internal food thermometer to check the meat is cooked to a temperature of 165 degrees, the level at which harmful bacteria is killed.
Salmonella affects 1 million a year
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that salmonella causes one million illnesses in the U.S. each year, with 19,000 requiring hospitalization and 380 people dying from it.
Food contaminated with salmonella can cause poisoning that leads to diarrhea, abdominal cramps and fever within 12-72 hours after exposure, which goes on to last 4-7 days.
Older people, infants and people with weakened immune systems are at most risk, as they are more likely to develop a severe illness.