Research – Salmonella Outbreaks Associated with Not Ready-to-Eat Breaded, Stuffed Chicken Products — United States, 1998–2022


Not ready-to-eat (NRTE) breaded, stuffed chicken products (e.g., chicken stuffed with broccoli and cheese) typically have a crispy, browned exterior that can make them appear cooked. These products have been repeatedly linked to U.S. salmonellosis outbreaks, despite changes to packaging initiated in 2006 to identify the products as raw and warn against preparing them in a microwave oven (microwave) (14). On April 28, 2023, the U.S. Department of Agriculture proposed to declare Salmonella an adulterant* at levels of one colony forming unit per gram or higher in these products (5). Salmonella outbreaks associated with NRTE breaded, stuffed chicken products during 1998–2022 were summarized using reports in CDC’s Foodborne Disease Outbreak Surveillance System (FDOSS), outbreak questionnaires, web postings, and data from the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS). Eleven outbreaks were identified in FDOSS. Among cultured samples from products obtained from patients’ homes and from retail stores during 10 outbreaks, a median of 57% of cultures per outbreak yielded Salmonella. The NRTE breaded, stuffed chicken products were produced in at least three establishments.§ In the seven most recent outbreaks, 0%–75% of ill respondents reported cooking the product in a microwave and reported that they thought the product was sold fully cooked or did not know whether it was sold raw or fully cooked. Outbreaks associated with these products have occurred despite changes to product labels that better inform consumers that the products are raw and provide instructions on safe preparation, indicating that consumer-targeted interventions are not sufficient. Additional Salmonella controls at the manufacturer level to reduce contamination in ingredients might reduce illnesses attributable to NRTE breaded, stuffed chicken products.

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