By Sam Lewis
Food manufacturing-giant recalls mechanically separated chicken products feared to be contaminated with Salmonella
Tyson Foods has placed 33,840 pounds of mechanically separated chicken products on recall. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), the chicken may be contaminated with Salmonella Heidelberg.
According to FSIS, mechanically separated chicken is “a paste-like and batter-like poultry product produced by forcing bones with attached edible tissue through a sieve or similar device under high pressure to separate bone from the edible tissue.” This type of processing has been used in poultry products since 1969. A decision in 1995 allowed mechanically separated chicken to be used without restrictions. However, for it to be used, it must be labeled as “mechanically separated chicken” or “mechanically separated turkey” depending on the type of poultry.
The recalled mechanically separated chicken products were produced by Tyson on Oct 11 of last year and were packaged in 40-pound cases. Each case contained four, 10-pound chub containers of “Tyson Mechanically Separated Chicken” and bears the establishment numbers “P-13556” within the USDA mark of inspection. Further, the suspect products are labeled with the case code “2843SDL1412 – 18.”
The recalled products are linked to Salmonella illnesses in a Tennessee correctional facility that served the mechanically separated chicken. Seven people at the facility have been confirmed ill with Salmonella infections between Nov 29, 2013 and Dec 5, 2013. Of the seven confirmed cases, two required hospitalization. However, the products were shipped “for institutional use” nationwide, not available for consumer purchase at retail locations. Consumers concerned about the recall are encouraged to contact Tyson Foods’ consumer relations department. More information is available on Tyson's website.
Salmonella is the leading cause of foodborne illness in the U.S., causing an estimated 1.3 million illnesses each year. To combat this, FSIS announced its Salmonella Action Plan last month. The strategy outlines ten points that will be taken to address issues in the production of meat and poultry products. In addition to the Salmonella Action Plan, FSIS has also published consumer guidelines for preventing Salmonella infections. Included in these guidelines are:
Cooking meat and poultry to temperatures that kill harmful bacteria. Ground meat should be cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit. Non-ground meat and poultry should reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
Hand washing with warm, soapy water for a minimum of 20 seconds before and after handling food. This practice should also take place after using the bathroom, changing diapers, and handling pets.
All food utensils, cutting boards, dishes, and countertops should be washed with hot soapy water after each item is prepared. This should be repeated before preparing each new item.
Paper towels should be used to clean surfaces in the kitchen. If cloth towels are used, wash them using the hot cycle of a washing machine.
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