2007: ConAgra recalls pot pies after 401 sickened

Source of Article:  http://www.dailyherald.com/story/?id=253965

Bloomberg News

Published: 11/26/2008 12:28 PM


Microwavable foods need better heating instructions to help consumers avoid food poisoning, U.S. health officials said after an investigation of salmonella- tainted pot pies that sickened 401 people.

ConAgra Foods Inc. recalled its Banquet frozen pot pies in October 2007 after reports of salmonella poisoning. The U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention found 401 cases in 41 states, an increase from 165 cases disclosed last year, according to a study by the Atlanta-based agency today. Another 15,000 people may have been sickened without reporting it, the CDC said.

Instructions on the Banquet pies may have confused customers, the CDC said. The packaging had different parts recommending conflicting preparation times, and instructions varied by microwave wattage, the CDC said. Today's report recommends foods have clear cooking instructions on packages and microwave ovens be labeled prominently with wattage.

The Banquet pot pie outbreak wasn't the first time microwavable foods have been linked to salmonella. Raw chicken nuggets and chicken strips led to outbreaks in Australia in 1998 and sporadic cases in Canada in 2003. Stuffed chicken products were implicated in five outbreaks in Minnesota over the last decade.

Many consumers assume foods are pre-cooked when the meats are covered in pre-cooked breading, the CDC said. The pot-pies contained mostly cooked ingredients, though the flour crusts were uncooked. The products also may have been contaminated with raw poultry pastes, the CDC said.

Salmonella is a group of bacteria that can cause severe diarrhea in humans with symptoms that can linger for months, the CDC said. It's usually spread by contact with animal feces. The illness sickens about 40,000 Americans each year.



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