USA – An interesting study about cooking frozen chicken and Salmonella illness.



Foodborne Pathogen

After repeat U.S. outbreaks of salmonella tied to frozen, breaded and stuffed chicken products, researchers are now pointing to microwave cooking as a key driver of illness.

Producers began implementing labelling changes in 2006 to more clearly identify these products as raw; many warn against using microwave ovens (microwaves) to prepare them and provide validated cooking instructions solely for conventional ovens (ovens)

However, outbreaks continued to occur after implementation of these labelling changes

Although ovens were the most commonly reported appliance used to cook frozen stuffed chicken products, more than one half of respondents (54.0%) reported using other appliances instead of or in addition to ovens, including microwaves (29.0%), a circumstance that historically has been reported frequently by ill persons in outbreaks associated with frozen stuffed chicken products. Respondents with lower incomes and who live in mobile types of homes reported lower oven use and higher microwave use. Persons within these groups might be at increased risk for illness related to both challenges in preparing these foods and access to appliances.

Efforts to prevent Salmonella infections linked to frozen stuffed chicken products have relied on manufacturers to develop validated cooking instructions and labelling to alert the consumer to which appliances are recommended to cook them (i.e., ovens). Studies indicate that microwaves, air fryers, and toaster ovens inconsistently heat frozen stuffed chicken or frozen raw breaded chicken

Therefore, cooking instructions often do not include information about cooking the product in air fryers or toaster ovens and might warn against using microwaves. However, previous studies have found that some consumers infrequently read package instructions (8,9), including one report that found some consumers discarded packaging when the products were brought home and never saw cooking instructions . In this survey, 30% of respondents reported using an air fryer, 29% a microwave, and 14% a toaster oven. These findings suggest that relying on labelling and cooking instructions might not be sufficient to prevent illness. Further, even when cooking these products in an oven, verifying the temperature of the finished product is important. However, food thermometer usage can be low; one study found that even among persons who owned a food thermometer, only 38% typically used them to check doneness of frozen chicken products.

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