Frozen raw breaded chicken

Some products, like frozen chicken nuggets, strips and burgers may look pre-cooked or browned but in fact contain raw chicken. You can protect your family from illness by following some simple steps.

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Health risks

Salmonella is a leading cause of bacterial foodborne illness in Canada. In 2015, there were an estimated 200,616 Salmonella illnesses in Canada.

Frozen raw breaded chicken products can be contaminated with Salmonella. These products have led to outbreaks of illness in Canada. These outbreaks are a reminder that frozen raw breaded chicken products need to be handled with care to avoid illness.

Anyone can become sick with a Salmonella infection. However, some people are at higher risk of serious illness because their immune systems are more fragile. These people include:

  • children ages 5 and under
  • adults over 60
  • pregnant women
  • those with weakened immune systems

Most people who become ill from a Salmonella infection will recover fully after a few days. It is possible for some people to be infected with the bacteria and not get sick or show any symptoms, but still be able to spread the infection to others.

Safety tips

Cook frozen raw breaded chicken products according to the package directions (correct temperature and cooking time). This will kill bacteria in the food itself.

However, it doesn't help to control bacteria that may have spread while the food was being prepared. Follow our additional safety tips to protect your family.

Unpacking

After purchase, it is preferable to keep all original packaging, but if you wish to get rid of it, first:

  • cut out or take note of the cooking instructions and product codes on the box
  • store these in the freezer with the product

Information found on the box or bag can also help public health officials if there is an illness.

Chilling

Keep cold food cold and hot food hot. This is so your food never reaches the "temperature danger zone." The danger zone is between 4°C (40°F) and 60°C (140°F).

In this range bacteria can grow quickly and cause illness. To avoid illness you can:

  • make sure your freezer is set at -18°C (0°F) or lower
  • buy frozen breaded chicken products at the end of your shopping trip
  • put frozen breaded chicken products in the freezer right away

Cleaning and preparing

Use these tips when cleaning and preparing frozen raw breaded chicken products:

  • handle these products as you would raw chicken meat
  • wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water before and after handling these products
  • use a separate plate, cutting board and tools when handling these products to prevent the spread of bacteria
  • use paper towels to wipe kitchen surfaces, or change dishcloths daily to avoid the risk of cross-contamination and the spread of bacteria
    • avoid using sponges as they are harder to keep bacteria-free
  • before and after preparing these products, sanitize:
    • tools
    • plates
    • cutting boards
    • kitchen surfaces
  • use a kitchen sanitizer (following instructions on the container) or a bleach solution (5 ml household bleach to 750 ml of water) and rinse with water

Cooking

Follow these tips when cooking frozen raw breaded chicken products:

  • never eat raw or undercooked chicken products
  • always follow package cooking instructions, including for products labelled
    • “Uncooked”
    • “Oven Ready”
    • “Ready to Cook”
    • “Cook and Serve”
  • cook these products until they reach an internal temperature of at least 74°C (165°F), even if there are no cooking instructions to follow on the product’s package
  • use a digital food thermometer to check that they have reached this temperature
    • insert the thermometer through the side of the product, all the way to the middle
    • this may not be practical with small pieces of chicken, so cooking based on the package instructions is the safest method
  • do not use the microwave, as this results in uneven heating and may result in some parts of the product being undercooked
  • do not reuse the same plate, cutting board or tools on breaded chicken products after they have been cooked, unless thoroughly sanitized before being reused

Leftovers

Use these tips to safely consume leftover cooked breaded chicken products:

  • chill or freeze any leftovers within two hours to reduce the chance of bacterial growth
  • make sure that cooked and raw meat do not come into contact with each other
  • avoid stocking your fridge with too much food so that cool air can circulate effectively
  • use chilled leftovers as soon as possible, ideally within 2 to 4 days
  • if reheating, make sure the food is cooked to an internal temperature of 74°C (165°F)
    • in general, you should not reheat the same leftovers more than once

How we protect you

We are committed to food safety. Health Canada creates rules and standards for the safety and nutritional quality of foods sold in Canada.

Through inspection and enforcement, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency confirms that food sold in Canada meets Health Canada's rules and standards.

The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) investigates cases of human illness suspected from food sources. The PHAC is in regular contact with its federal and provincial partners to take steps to address outbreaks.

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