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Undercooked Pot Pies Linked to Salmonella Outbreak

Salmonella outbreak over 41 states linked to failure to cook not-ready-to-eat frozen foods

FRIDAY, Nov. 28 (HealthDay News) -- Failure to cook not-ready-to-eat frozen foods caused a multi-state outbreak of Salmonella infections during 2007, according to a report published Nov. 28 in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

S. Meyer, of the Minnesota Department of Health, and colleagues reported on the epidemiologic study of a Salmonella infection outbreak during 2007. After a cluster of outbreaks (comprised of four Salmonella serotypes) was reported in Pennsylvania, subsequent investigations identified 401 cases of salmonellosis throughout 41 states. Of these 401 patients, 32 percent were hospitalized due to the illness.

The outbreak was significantly associated with Banquet brand frozen, not-ready-to-eat pot pies (odds ratio 23.6), the researchers report. Further, the Salmonella strain causing the outbreak was identified in 13 samples from unopened Banquet brand pot pies found in the homes of infected patients. Additionally, 77 percent of the infected patients who consumed these pot pies cooked them in a microwave, and may have inadequately cooked them because of confusion regarding microwave cooking instructions. The manufacturer (ConAgra Food, Inc.) subsequently issued a voluntary recall on Oct. 11, 2007 for all implicated brands.

"This outbreak highlights the need to cook not-ready-to-eat frozen foods thoroughly; these products should be clearly labeled as requiring complete cooking, and cooking instructions should be validated to account for variability in microwave wattage and common misconceptions among consumers regarding the nature of not-ready-to-eat foods," the authors write.

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