THE FOOD STANDARDS AGENCY has issued an urgent warning about a chicken product sold in food stores across Wales.
The agency has recalled three chicken products for possible salmonella contamination.
The products affected are SFC chicken’s boneless bucket and poppets and Vestey Food’s Chick Inn jumbo chicken nuggets
Five people are suspected to have died and hundreds more, including children, became seriously ill after eating contaminated chicken imported from Poland.
The processed chicken products are typically bought by parents as a cheap and easy meal for children. Some 44 per cent of victims were aged 16 or under.
The meat was turned into cheap frozen nuggets and breaded chicken products sold by major supermarkets across the UK over the past year.
Sainsbury’s and Morrisons have been selling the products for months while the Vestey nuggets have been sold through hundreds of Heron Foods stores, B&M, and B&M Express.
Some 480 people are known to have fallen ill with salmonella poisoning with more than one in three becoming so sick they needed hospital treatment.
The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has issued a warning over the consumption of two SFC chicken products – which use packaging that mimics KFC – Take Home Boneless Bucket and Chicken Poppets.
There also been a recall of Chick Inn 32 Jumbo Chicken Nuggets, made by Vestey Foods.
Head of the Gastrointestinal Pathogens of the National Infection Service, Saheer Gharbia, said: “Salmonella generally causes a mild illness, although vulnerable groups like children under five years, the elderly, and those with weakened immune systems may experience more severe illness and may require hospitalisation.
“Symptoms of a Salmonella infection include diarrhoea, stomach cramps and sometimes vomiting and fever. Anyone who is concerned about symptoms should contact their GP or out of hours service in the first instance.”
Chief operating officer of the Food Standards Agency, Colin Sullivan, said: “Our advice is to always take care when storing, handling and cooking these types of frozen breaded chicken products to help reduce the risk of food poisoning to you and your family.
“You should always check the cooking instructions on food packaging, as different brands of the same product might have different instructions. Cooking food at the right temperature and for the correct length of time will ensure that any harmful bacteria are killed.”
SFC, which is based in Merseyside, apologised and said it would like to “assure customers of our continuing commitment to the highest standard of quality and safety”
Public health watchdogs say the salmonella infection has been recorded as a contributory cause of death in at least one case.
A further four deaths have been linked to the outbreaks, although it is not clear whether salmonella infection was a factor for those.
Vestey, which is based in Croydon, confirmed salmonella had been found in the Chick Inn nuggets product.