“This approach focuses the responsibility on the poultry industry and represents a fundamental change to existing requirements for frozen raw breaded chicken products,” CFIA said in a statement.
The new measures call for processors to identify Salmonella as a hazard and implement modifications that reduce Salmonella to below a detectable amount in products such as chicken nuggets, chicken fingers, chicken strips, popcorn chicken and chicken burgers that are packaged for retail sale. CFIA granted industry a 12-month implementation period to begin immediately.
“The poultry industry’s objective is to provide consumers with affordable, safe poultry products, every day,” said K. Robin Horel, president and CEO, Canadian Poultry & Egg Processors Council. “We will continue to work with CFIA to ensure consumers have access to safe frozen raw breaded chicken products.”
Industry and federal agencies have engaged in extensive efforts to increase consumer awareness that frozen raw breaded chicken products need to be fully cooked. In 2015, industry voluntarily developed additional labeling on frozen raw breaded chicken products to include more prominent and consistent messaging, such as “raw,” “uncooked” or “must be cooked” along with explicit instructions not to microwave these products. Additionally, food companies voluntarily introduced adding cooking instructions on inner-packaging.
Despite these procedures and others, the incidence of Salmonella infections in Canada has steadily increased in the last 10 years driven by Salmonella enteritidis (SE), the most common strain of Salmonella in the food supply that is often associated with poultry, CFIA said.