Barber Foods is recalling about 1.7 million pounds of frozen, raw stuffed chicken products over a salmonella concern, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service announced Monday.
The recall comes 12 days after the department first issued an alert about the product. Since then, six people in Minnesota and Wisconsin have reportedly gotten ill after eating the Barber products.
Click here and scroll down to see affected product labels, which includes crunchie chicken finger, raw stuffed chicken cordon bleu, chicken kiev, and broccoli-and-cheese stuffed raw chicken breast.
The products subject to recall were associated with a "specific whole muscle raw material," Barber says on its website, processed in the Portland, Maine, facility from February to May of 2015.
They have the establishment number “P-276” inside the USDA mark of inspection. They were shipped to retail locations throughout the United States and Canada.
The Minnesota Department of Health had recorded two separate outbreaks as of the July 2 notice.
The first sickened four, and happened between April 5 and June 8. They were linked to Barber Foods chicken Kiev product.
The second sickened three others, from May 9 to June 8, but involved Antioch Farms brand cordon bleu raw stuffed chicken breast.
No deaths were linked to either outbreak.
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 salmonella causes 1 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 four to seven days.
Older people, infants and people with weakened immune systems are at most risk, as they are more likely to develop a severe illness.