Thursday, April 13, 2006

Chicken Serving Choices Cause Labeling Confusion

When buying chicken at the supermarket, it is a good policy to know if the chicken you are buying needs to be cooked before it is served ... or not.

It is due to this problem, the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has recommended to food producers a new labeling standard. The new label standard requires producers to clearly label products as: "Uncooked: For Safety, Must be Cooked to an Internal Temperature of 165 degrees F as Measured by Use of a Thermometer". Further, the new labeling needs to be submitted for approval by May 1st or suffer recalls.

Excerpts from Food Navigator via FMI dailyLead-

Revised labelling required for poultry products
By Ahmed ElAmin

4/11/2006 - By next month food companies will be required to have more explicit instructions that uncooked, breaded or boneless poultry products need to be cooked.

The new requirement was sparked by a recent food recall due to consumer confusion over whether such products needed to be
cooked. The product led to a number of people falling sick from Salmonella enteritidis.
The labelling re-application requirement applies to frozen
poultry products that may also be stuffed or filled, charmarked, or artificially colored. Such products are similar frozen stuffed chicken entrees from that the FSIS recalled on March 10.
The FSIS will also approve the accompanying cooking instructions to insure consumers understand them. The instructions may not meet regulatory standards if consumers are directed to use a cooking method that is not practical or not likely to achieve the necessary level of food safety, the FSIS stated.

Microwaving or using a toaster oven to cook frozen product may not achieve the recommended internal temperature.
Serenade Foods Division, a Milford, Ind., firm, voluntarily recalled 75,800 pounds of frozen stuffed chicken entrees in March. The raw chicken entrees, because of their frozen state, labeling, and cooked appearance, may have caused consumers to believe these raw products are pre-cooked, the recall notice stated.

The products were contaminated with Salmonella Enteritidis that causes human illness. Illnesses have been linked directly to these products through case history of the patients and through microbiological testing of both the products and affected consumers.
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This notice would be really funny if food poisoning wasn't so painful and life threatening.

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