Frozen Meals Linked to Salmonella Outbreak

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June 18, 2010 – Marie Callender’s brand Cheesy Chicken and Rice appears to have caused a salmonella outbreak that so far has sickened 29 people in 14 states.

ConAgra Foods has recalled the product: 13-ounce packages of “Marie Callender’s Cheesy Chicken & Rice White Meat Chicken and Broccoli over Rice Topped with Rich Cheddar Sauce.”

Packages carry a label with the establishment number “P-45” inside the USDA inspection mark. The products were distributed nationwide. The recall applies only to frozen products and not to those sold in Marie Callender’s restaurants.

In its investigation of an outbreak of salmonella food poisoning, the CDC found that eight patients reported eating this specific product in April and May. The last report of illness was on May 22, 2010.

People who have the product in their freezers should discard it or return it to the place of purchase for a refund.

Consumers with questions may contact ConAgra at 866-484-9610.

The type of salmonella detected in the frozen meals is Salmonella serotype Chester. Salmonella is a common cause of food poisoning. Infections can be life threatening, particularly to infants, the elderly, and others with weak immune systems.

Common symptoms of salmonella food poisoning include diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever within eight to 72 hours of consuming contaminated food or beverages. Other symptoms may include chills, headache, nausea, and vomiting that can last up to seven days.

The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service warns consumers to always use a thermometer to make sure that all ingredients in frozen meals are cooked to a temperature of at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

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