While investigating a breaded chicken Salmonella outbreak, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture tested Kirkwood Chicken Cordon Bleu and found the outbreak strain.  Kirkwood is a store brand for  ALDI, but other brands may also be implicated as the investigation progresses, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The six-state outbreak includes 17 confirmed cases. Patients said they ate frozen, stuffed, breaded chicken products in the days before they became ill. These chicken products include chicken cordon bleu, chicken with broccoli and cheese, and chicken Kiev. Sixty-two percent of the patients interviewed by the CDC were so sick they required hospitalization.

“That’s an unusually high hospitalization rate,” said noted Food Safety Attorney Eric Hageman. “It’s more than three times the average.” Hageman is a lead attorney of the Pritzker Hageman Salmonella lawsuit team which recently won a landmark $6.5 million verdict for a client sickened by chicken contaminated with Salmonella.

High hospitalization rates can be indications that the outbreak includes patients at higher risk for severe illness such as young children and seniors. In this outbreak, half of the patients range in age from 52 to 83 years old. High hospitalization rates can also be indicators that the outbreak strain is particularly virulent or resistant to antibiotics. Testing is underway to determine if the strain is antibiotic-resistant.

Kirkwood chicken cordon bleu, Salmonella outbreak

Symptoms of a Salmonella Infection

Symptoms of a Salmonella infection usually develop with six to 72 hours of eating contaminated food. They include fever, abdominal cramps, and diarrhea. See a doctor right away if you have eaten a Kirkwood chicken cordon bleu or other stuffed, breaded chicken entrée and develop any of the following severe Salmonella symptoms.

  • Vomiting so much you can’t keep liquids down
  • Bloody diarrhea
  • Diarrhea lasting more than three days that is not improving
  • Diarrhea and a fever higher than 102°F
  • Signs of dehydration, such as decreased urination, dry mouth, feeling dizzy when standing up.

The people sickened in this outbreak range in age from 3 to 83 years old. They reported the onset of symptoms on dates ranging from February 21, 2021, to May 7, 2021. The case count from each state is: Arizona (1), Illinois (6), Indiana (3), Michigan (1), Minnesota (4), and New York (2).

Is There a Recall?

There is no recall at this time. Even though MN Agriculture officials found the outbreak strain in Kirkwood chicken cordon bleu that they purchased from a store, neither ALDI nor the company that produced the chicken for the grocery store chain has issued a recall.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA FSIS) which has been investigating the outbreak for two weeks, did issue a “Public Health Alert” for frozen, stuffed, breaded chicken products reminding consumers to handle raw poultry safely.  The alert doesn’t name Kirkwood or any other brands.

USDA FSIS said the test results alone were not enough evidence to request a recall from the company. “At this time, the production lots tested in Minnesota are not known to have been purchased by any of the case patients. FSIS has not received any purchase documentation, shopper records, or other traceable information at this time,” the alert states.

The alert goes on to state that the products are raw and are labeled so, despite their appearance. And that directions are only provided for preparation in a conventional oven, not microwaves or air fryers which some patients reported using. Why Blame Consumers?

USDA FSIS is the federal agency that regulates meat and poultry. It does not consider Salmonella an adulterant, like E. coli. The Reason? Salmonella is most often found in poultry which, unlike beef, is never eaten rare. USDA FSIS has known for decades that the poultry industry has a pervasive Salmonella problem. But instead of making it illegal to sell poultry contaminated with it, the USDA took a consumer education approach. Cook, clean, chill, and separate.

So, when there is a poultry Salmonella outbreak, USDA FSIS is quick to point out consumer error and reiterate food safety basics. Pritzker Hageman’s landmark Salmonella case was “a rejection of the argument that poultry companies can produce contaminated product and then blame consumers who get sick from eating it,” Hageman said.

Previous Salmonella Outbreak with Kirkwood Link

There have been some Salmonella outbreaks where the poultry is so contaminated that even consumers who followed directions carefully got sick. The source of one such outbreak was frozen, stuffed, breaded chicken entrees. That 2014 Salmonella Enteritidis outbreak, linked to Antioch Farms chicken Kiev, sickened six people in Minnesota.  Chicago-based Aspen Foods, a division of Koch Meats produced the items.

The following year, Aspen frozen, breaded, stuffed, chicken products were again linked to a Salmonella Enteritidis outbreak. The products were sold nationwide under a variety of brand names including  Kirkwood. Other brand names made by Aspen and recalled in connection with the outbreak were: Acclaim, Antioch Farms, Buckley Farms, Centrella Signature, Chestnut Farms, Family Favorites, Koch Foods, Market Day, Oven Cravers, Rose, Rosebud Farm, Roundy’s, Safeway Kitchens, Schwan’s, Shaner’s, Spartan and Sysco. ALDI, Food Lion, Kroger, Safeway, Save-a-Lot, and Walmart were among the retailers who sold these products.

Free Salmonella Lawsuit Consultation

If you contracted a Salmonella Enetriditis infection from Kirkwood chicken cordon bleu or another contaminated breaded chicken product and would like a free consultation with an experienced Salmonella lawyer, please contact the Pritzker Hageman Salmonella Legal Team. We have represented clients in every major Salmonella outbreak in the U.S. You can reach us by calling 1-888-377-8900, sending a text to 612-261-0856, or by completing the form below.  You are under no obligation and pay nothing unless we win.