Questions and answers: New measures to reduce salmonella in frozen raw breaded chicken products

Why is the Canadian Food Inspection Agency requiring these new measures?

These new measures were prompted by the continued link between frozen raw breaded chicken products and outbreaks of food-borne illness. These new measures will reduce the risks associated with these products, but not eliminate the risk completely. The best way to prevent illnesses is to store, prepare and cook all poultry products properly. This includes following package directions and cooking chicken fully to kill bacteria like Salmonella.

What options does the industry have to meet the requirements?

Manufacturers of frozen raw breaded chicken products must implement one of the following control measure options by April 1, 2019:

  • implement a validated cooking process to reduce Salmonella; or
  • implement a testing program for the raw chicken mixture to demonstrate it has no detectable Salmonella; or
  • implement a testing program for finished frozen raw breaded chicken products to demonstrate they have no detectable Salmonella; or
  • include a validated process or combination of processes to reduce Salmonella and implement a Salmonella sampling program for the raw chicken mixture.

Will these requirements be put in place for all poultry products across Canada?

The new requirements address the risks associated with frozen raw breaded chicken products (such as chicken nuggets, chicken strips, chicken burgers, popcorn chicken and chicken fries) because they appear ready-to-eat.

These new measures will reduce the risks associated with these products, but not eliminate the risk completely. The best way to prevent illnesses is to store, prepare and cook all poultry products properly. This includes following package directions and cooking chicken fully to kill bacteria like Salmonella.

Why are only certain products affected by the new requirements?

The new measures focus on products that have the greatest potential to make Canadians sick when they are consumed undercooked. This includes products that are made from ground, chopped or formed chicken meat and products that look like they are already cooked (par-fried). Breaded products that are made from whole pieces of chicken (such as chicken breasts) do not have the same high risk.

How long did the Canadian Food Inspection Agency give industry to make the changes?

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency provided industry with a 12 month implementation period. Facilities that manufacture these products must implement control measures by April 1, 2019.

Will recalls still happen once the measures are implemented?

If products are found to be contaminated with Salmonella, they will be recalled and removed from shelves. Frozen raw breaded chicken products may remain in the marketplace or in freezers for up to two years.

Will the Canadian Food Inspection Agency monitor industry compliance?

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has an active monitoring program which inspectors use to verify that industry is complying with the new requirements.

What are the labelling requirements for frozen raw breaded chicken products?

In 2004, mandatory labelling measures were implemented requiring descriptors such as "must be cooked", "uncooked" or "raw" be included near the common name. Comprehensive cooking instructions were also added on the outer-packaging.

In 2015, the Government of Canada worked with industry to develop additional voluntary labelling, which included more prominent and consistent labels and messaging, as well as explicit instructions not to microwave the product. Industry also introduced cooking instructions on the inner-packaging.

What efforts has the Government of Canada made to protect the public from the risk of Salmonella from frozen breaded chicken products?

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency, Health Canada, and the Public Health Agency of Canada work together to reduce the risk of illness associated with all frozen raw breaded chicken products packaged for retail sale. This includes an extensive communications campaign to reach as many Canadians as possible, through social media ads and posts, an overarching public health notice, a joint statement by the Council of Chief Medical Officers of Health (CCMOH), outreach to media and partner engagement, in addition to the public notices related to specific outbreaks and recalls.

What is the Government of Canada doing to protect Canadians with regards to products produced before April 1, 2019?

The new measures to reduce Salmonella in frozen raw breaded chicken products must be implemented for products produced as of April 1, 2019. This means that frozen raw breaded chicken products may remain in the marketplace or in consumers' freezers for up to two years.

The best way to prevent illnesses is to store, prepare and cook all poultry products properly. This includes following package directions and cooking chicken to kill bacteria like Salmonella.

What can I do to make sure the products I eat are safe?

Even with the new measures in place, it is important to store, prepare and cook all breaded chicken products properly to prevent illness. You should always follow package directions and cook your chicken properly to kill bacteria like Salmonella.

What does "below detectable levels of salmonella" mean?

It is the lowest level of salmonella that our current technology allows us to detect.

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