Check Your Freezer: The USDA Says These Frozen Breaded Chicken Products May Be Contaminated With Salmonella
Frozen breaded and stuffed chicken has been blamed for at least 17 cases of Salmonella entereditis, after people ate raw or undercooked chicken cordon bleu, chicken with broccoli and cheese, or chicken Kiev. Eight of those affected were hospitalized—though the CDC expects that there are more cases out there. And that has led to the US Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) issuing a public health alert regarding these breaded and stuffed chicken products.
So far, it's been linked to at least one brand—the Minnesota Department of Agriculture found salmonella in Kirkwood's Chicken Cordon Bleu, commonly sold at Aldi's, though it may also be present in products under other brand names.
There hasn't been an official recall yet, but you might want to avoid serving any frozen chicken cordon bleu, chicken with broccoli and cheese, or chicken Kiev—or at the very least, follow the product's cooking directions to the letter.
"The products of concern may appear to be ready-to-eat but are, in fact, raw and need to be fully cooked before consumption," federal officials said. "Many of these stuffed chicken products were labeled with instructions identifying that the product was uncooked (raw).
"The labels also identified cooking instructions for preparation in an oven. Some of the patients reported that they did not follow the cooking instructions and reported microwaving the product, cooking it in an air fryer, or cooking it in the oven for less than the recommended time and without using a meat thermometer to confirm the recommended temperature was achieved."
You should also make sure that your chicken and other meats are fully cooked to the appropriate temperature—165 degrees Fahrenheit. (If you don't already have one, a meat thermometer can literally be a life saver!) And fully read the directions to determine if the product you're serving is raw or precooked.
Symptoms of salmonellosis include diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever, which would show up within 12 to 72 hours of eating something contaminated with salmonella. For severe illness—especially in those who are older or have weakened immune systems—hospitalization may be needed. Most cases of food poisoning with salmonella resolve within four to seven days.