In this document you will find information on illnesses that have been linked to chicken, turkey and other poultry and what you can do to keep you and your family safe. You will also find out how Health Canada, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, the Public Health Agency of Canada and the poultry industry are working together to prevent human illnesses due to poultry. Information for the poultry industry on Health Canada's food safety programs, including reports on previous consultations, is found under Other Resources.
What is the Problem?
Two types of disease-causing bacteria, Salmonella and Campylobacter, are sometimes found in raw poultry. It only takes a few of these bacteria to cause severe diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps. In some cases, chronic arthritis and other complications may occur after the initial symptoms clear up. Although unlikely, infection with either of these bacteria can result in death. When children, the elderly, and those with weakened immune systems, such as pregnant women and cancer patients, become infected, the symptoms of foodborne illness can be much worse. Therefore, special care should be taken to avoid foodborne illness when preparing food for these people.
Find out how to prevent illness from poultry and how to tell when your poultry is finished cooking.
What is Health Canada doing?
Health Canada has a mandate to protect the health of Canadians through the development of policies, guidelines, standards and regulations. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency enforces these regulations and uses the policies, guidelines and standards in their assessment of industry food safety programs.
Health Canada is proposing a change to the Food and Drug regulations to have safe handling instructions on the labels of all raw ground and minced meat and poultry products. Meat and poultry products which look cooked but are not ready-to-eat (such as raw chicken nuggets) will also be included in these proposed labelling regulations. These safe handling labels would include recommended cooking temperatures.
Research on Salmonella and Campylobacter in poultry and on the farm is carried out by Health Canada and Public Health Agency of Canada scientists. New information from this research is used in the development of policies.
Educational material and campaigns are developed by Health Canada, in collaboration with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and other government organizations, the Canadian Partnership for Consumer Food Safety Education and the poultry industry.
Collaboration at an international level is developed through participation on the Codex Alimentarius Committee on Meat Hygiene.
The following links will provide you with more information on topics about Poultry Safety.
For the Public
Salmonellosis: British Columbia
Salmonella Infection from Raw/Undercooked Chicken Nuggets and Strips: Canada
Health Canada's Initiative for mandatory safe handling labels for comminuted raw meat and poultry
- Report on Industry Government Workshop on Mandatory Labelling of Raw Meat and Poultry Products with Safe Preparation/Handling/Cooking Messages (January 27, 2004)
- Irradiation of Poultry: Summary of Submission Process (March 10, 2003)
- Development of a Logic Model and an Evaluation Framework of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency's Modernized Poultry Inspection Program (January 29, 2003)
Policy on Raw Foods of Animal Origin
Canadian Food Inspection Agency
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