The Public Health Agency of Canada is investigating 18 cases of salmonella linked to frozen raw breaded chicken products.
In a public health notice, the agency said more illnesses have been reported.
"Currently, there are 18 cases of salmonella enteriditis illness in six provinces: British Columbia (1), Alberta (1), Ontario (10), Quebec (2), New Brunswick (2), and Nova Scotia (2). Six people have been hospitalized. One of the ill individuals has died; however, it has not been determined if salmonella contributed to the cause of death."
The individuals became sick between June and September. The average age of the victims was 41.
The age and location of the deceased person could not be provided because of confidentiality reasons, a spokesperson for the agency said on Thursday.
Investigators have traced the source of illness to frozen raw breaded chicken products.
Several individuals involved in the outbreak reported eating Janes Pub Style Chicken Burgers before becoming sick.
Earlier this week, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency issued a recall of:
- Janes Pub Style Chicken Burgers — Uncooked Breaded Chicken Burgers (800 g) with a best before date of May 12, 2018 (2018 MA 12) and UPC: 0 69299 12491 0.
- Janes Pub Style Snacks Popcorn Chicken — (800 g), with best before date 2018 MA 15.
Scientists found that food samples of the recalled products tested positive for salmonella enteritidis with the same genetic fingerprint as the human illnesses.
So far, illnesses in six provinces have been linked to frozen raw breaded chicken products.
For the cases in Ontario, Public Health Ontario Laboratory Services processed the samples to detect the infections.
"All positive salmonella results are then sent to the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg for whole genome sequencing and further analysis to assist in outbreak investigations," a spokesperson for Public Health Ontario said in an email.
There is no indication that the salmonella enteritidis strain in in this outbreak is more virulent, the provincial lab official said.
A spoksperson for Ontario's health ministry said Friday they are aware of three lab confirmed cases of salmonella in the province linked to this recall.
Raw poultry handling reminder
Since 2015, this is the third national outbreak investigation that has led to the recall of frozen breaded chicken products, the Public Health Agency of Canada said.
The risk to Canadians is low. Salmonella is commonly found in raw chicken and frozen raw breaded chicken products.
Consumers are advised that illnesses can be avoided by following safe food handling, preparation and cooking practices for these foods.
"This outbreak is a reminder that frozen raw breaded chicken products contain raw poultry and should be handled and prepared no differently from other raw poultry products. Follow cooking instructions carefully and verify the internal temperature after cooking, as recommended, before consuming these products."
Frozen raw breaded chicken products need to be cooked to an internal temperature of at least 74°C (165°F).
Symptoms of a salmonella infection, called salmonellosis, typically start six to 72 hours after exposure.
Recalled products should be thrown out or returned to the store where they were purchased.
The investigation is continuing. It's possible that more products could be recalled.