A PA company is recalling chicken nuggets after the CO Dept of Ag found that a sample of the product was positive for Staphylococcus enterotoxin. There have not yet been any illnesses reported.
Staphylococcus growth and toxin formation is an issue in breaded/battered product. The main issue is with the hydrated batter before it goes onto the chicken. In this scenario, the organism grows in the batter when the batter is not held at the proper temperatures. When the organism reaches sufficient numbers, toxin is produced in the batter and then that toxin ends up on the food, in this case chicken piece, during the battering process. In a typical batter operation, once the chicken is battered/breaded, then it is partially fried (par-fried) to set the coating. This heat application (dipping in hot oil) kills the Staphylococcus organism, but does not destroy the toxin since the toxin is heat stable..
To prevent this, proper temperature control of the batter is needed. FDA has recommended batter handling instructions (http://www.fda.gov/downloads/Food/GuidanceRegulation/UCM252424.pdf).
Another possible scenario is that that the chicken nugget product, once fried, is not cooled properly and the organism grows on the temperature abused nuggets.
Staphylococcus enterotoxin is fast acting, causing severe vomiting in an hour to 6 hours after consumption. The symptoms will last a day or so. When it is a batter contamination issue as described above, there would be no indication to the consumer that the product was contaminated, and no prevention. Again, cooking by the consumer would not destroy the toxin.
USDA News Release
Murry’s, Inc., Recalls Chicken Products Due to Staphylococcal Enterotoxin Contamination
Class I Recall 100-2015
Health Risk: High Jul 15, 2015
Congressional and Public Affairs Whitney Joy (202) 720-9113
WASHINGTON, July 15, 2015 – Murry’s, Inc., a Lebanon, Pa. establishment, is recalling approximately 20,232 pounds of gluten-free breaded chicken nugget product that tested positive for Staphylococcal enterotoxin, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced today.
The following product is subject to recall: [View Labels (PDF Only)]
12-oz. boxes of “Bell & Evans Gluten Free Breaded Chicken Breast Nuggets” with a “Best By” date of March 25, 2016.
The product, bearing establishment number “P-516” inside the USDA mark of inspection, was shipped to an establishment for distribution nationwide.
The problem was discovered by the Colorado Department of Agriculture during a routine retail surveillance and sampling program, which is funded by the USDA at a Federal Emergency Response Network lab. After being notified of the positive test result, FSIS conducted traceback activities.
Staphylococcal food poisoning is a gastrointestinal illness. It is caused by eating foods contaminated with toxin-producing Staphylococcus aureus.
Staphylococcus aureus is a common bacterium found on the skin and in the noses of healthy people and animals. Staphylococcus aureus can produce seven different toxins that are frequently responsible for food poisoning.
Staphylococcal enterotoxins are fast acting, sometimes causing illness in as little as 30 minutes. Thoroughly cooking product does not prevent illness, and symptoms usually develop within one to six hours after eating contaminated food. Patients typically experience several of the following: nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps, and diarrhea. The illness is usually mild and most patients recover after one to three days.
To prevent Staphylococcal contamination, keep kitchens and food-serving areas clean and sanitized. Keep hot foods hot (over 140 °F) and cold foods cold (40 °F or under). Make sure to wash hands and under fingernails vigorously with soap and water before handling and preparing food. Do not prepare food if you have an open sore or wound on your hands or if you have a nose or eye infection.
FSIS and the company have received no reports of adverse reactions due to consumption of these products. Anyone concerned about a reaction should contact a healthcare provider.
FSIS routinely conducts recall effectiveness checks to verify recalling firms notify their customers of the recall and that steps are taken to make certain that the product is no longer available to consumers. When available, the retail distribution list(s) will be posted on the FSIS website at www.fsis.usda.gov/recalls.
Consumers and media with questions about the recall can contact Murry’s Customer Service, at (800) 638-0215.
Consumers with food safety questions can "Ask Karen," the FSIS virtual representative available 24 hours a day at AskKaren.gov or via smartphone at m.askkaren.gov. The toll-free USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) is available in English and Spanish and can be reached from l0 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Eastern Time) Monday through Friday. Recorded food safety messages are available 24 hours a day. The online Electronic Consumer Complaint Monitoring System can be accessed 24 hours a day at: http://www.fsis.usda.gov/reportproblem.