While investigating a breaded chicken Salmonella outbreak, the Minnesota Agriculture Department found the outbreak strain in Kirkwood Chicken Cordon Bleu. Kirkwood is an ALDI store brand, but other brands may also be implicated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
This outbreak includes 17 confirmed cases from six states. Patients reported eating frozen, stuffed, breaded chicken products before they became ill. These items include chicken cordon bleu, chicken with broccoli and cheese, and chicken Kiev. Sixty-two percent of the patients interviewed by the CDC were so sick they needed to be hospitalized.
“That’s an unusually high hospitalization rate,” said noted Food Safety Attorney Eric Hageman. “It’s more than three times the average.” Hageman is a lead attorney of the Pritzker Hageman Salmonella lawsuit team which recently won a landmark $6.5 million verdict for a client sickened by chicken contaminated with Salmonella.
High hospitalization rates can be indications that the outbreak includes age groups that are at higher risk for severe illness such as young children and seniors. (Half of the patients in this outbreak range in age from 52 to 83 years old.) They can also be indicators that the outbreak strain is particularly virulent or resistant to antibiotics. Testing is underway to determine if the strain is antibiotic-resistant.
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Symptoms of a Salmonella infection usually appear within six to 72 hours of eating contaminated food. They include abdominal cramps, fever and diarrhea. See a doctor right away if you have eaten a Kirkwood chicken cordon bleu or other stuffed, breaded chicken entrée and develop any of the following severe Salmonella symptoms.
- Bloody diarrhea
- Diarrhea lasting more than three days that is not improving
- Diarrhea and a fever higher than 102°F
- Vomiting so much you can’t keep liquids down
- Signs of dehydration, such as decreased urination, dry mouth, feeling dizzy when standing up.
The people sickened in this outbreak, who range in age from 3 to 83 years old, reported the onset of symptoms on dates ranging from February 21, 2021, to May 7, 2021. The number of cases confirmed from each state so far is Arizona (1), Illinois (6), Indiana (3), Michigan (1), Minnesota (4), and New York (2).
Is There a Stuffed, Breaded Chicken Salmonella Recall?
Although MN Agriculture officials found the outbreak strain in Kirkwood chicken cordon bleu that they purchased from a store, ALDI has not issued a recall. Instead, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA FSIS) issued a “Public Health Alert” for frozen, stuffed, breaded chicken products reminding consumers to handle raw poultry safely. The alert does not name Kirkwood or any other brand of these products.
USDA FSIS said the test results alone were not enough to request a recall from the company. “At this time, the production lots tested in Minnesota are not known to have been purchased by any of the case patients. FSIS has not received any purchase documentation, shopper records, or other traceable information at this time,” the alert states.
The alert further states that the products are raw and are labeled so, despite their appearance. And that directions are only provided for preparation in a conventional oven, yet some patients used microwaves or air fryers. Update August 9, 2021 – Serenade Foods Issues Recall
Don’t Blame Consumers
USDA FSIS is the federal agency charged with regulating meat and poultry. It does not consider Salmonella an adulterant because it is most often found in poultry which, unlike beef, is never eaten rare. The agency has been aware for decades that Salmonella is pervasive in the poultry processing industry. But instead of making it illegal to sell poultry contaminated with it, the USDA took a consumer education approach. (Handle poultry safely, cook it to a proper temperature.)
When there is a poultry Salmonella outbreak, USDA FSIS is quick to point to consumer error. Pritzker Hageman’s landmark Salmonella case was “a rejection of the argument that poultry companies can produce contaminated product and then blame consumers who get sick from eating it,” Hageman said.
Previous Kirkwood Salmonella Outbreak
And there have been Salmonella outbreaks where the poultry is so contaminated that even those who followed directions and used meat thermometers got sick. In fact, one of those outbreaks was linked to frozen, stuffed, breaded chicken entrees. That Salmonella Enteritidis 2014 outbreak, linked to Antioch Farms chicken Kiev, sickened six people in Minnesota. The products were made by Chicago-based Aspen Foods, a division of Koch Meats.
The following year, Aspen frozen, breaded, stuffed, chicken products were again linked to a Salmonella Enteritidis outbreak. The products were sold nationwide under a variety of brand names including Acclaim, Antioch Farms, Buckley Farms, Centrella Signature, Chestnut Farms, Family Favorites, Kirkwood, Koch Foods, Market Day, Oven Cravers, Rose, Rosebud Farm, Roundy’s, Safeway Kitchens, Schwan’s, Shaner’s, Spartan and Sysco. Stores that sold the products included ALDI, Food Lion, Kroger, Safeway, Save-a-Lot, and Walmart.
USDA FSIS inspectors who gathered samples at Aspen’s Chicago facility, with USDA establishment number “P-1358,” described the Salmonella problem as “systemic.”
Free Salmonella Lawsuit Consultation
If you contracted a Salmonella Enetriditis infection from Kirkwood chicken cordon bleu or another contaminated breaded chicken product and would like a free consultation with an experienced Salmonella lawyer, please contact the Pritzker Hageman Salmonella Legal Team. We have represented clients in every major Salmonella outbreak in the U.S. You can reach us by calling 1-888-377-8900, sending a text to 612-261-0856, or by completing the form below. There is no obligation and we don’t get paid unless we win.
UPDATE: This post was updated August 9, 2021, to include a link to recall information.