Aspen Foods and parent company Koch Foods remain confident in the safety of its raw, breaded, stuffed chicken breast products, which were subjected to a public health alert issued by the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) on September 17.
The federal agency stated that the chicken breast products in question had been confirmed to have the same Salmonella Enteritidis outbreak strain that was part of a July recall of Aspen Foods chicken products.
Koch Foods has not issued a recall on the products that were mentioned in the public health alert, stating that the products were produced in full compliance with USDA regulations and inspected and passed by USDA, the company said in a statement released one day after the alert was issued.
“In the spirit of cautious cooperation, we complied with USDA's request to conduct a voluntary recall of our raw, breaded, stuffed chicken breasts on July 15. At that time, USDA had identified three human cases of salmonellosis, but couldn't find a product that tested positive for the same strain. USDA focused on our product because the ill people recalled eating our products -- along with many other foods. Despite the fact that USDA never found the strain of Salmonella they sought in our products, we agreed to recall voluntarily. In addition, we implemented new food safety measures to reduce Salmonella and our own testing data shows that our efforts were successful,” the company stated.
“Now, months later, after USDA tested our products intensively, they have finally found the strain of Salmonella they were seeking. Salmonella at low levels is permitted on raw poultry because it occurs there naturally and because cooking destroys it. In contrast to the July situation, USDA has now found the pathogen, but they haven't found people with the illnesses during the time these products were produced and marketed. Nevertheless, USDA asked us to recall six weeks of additional production. This time, based on the advice of our food safety experts and legal counsel, we are declining to recall.
“The safety of our products and the confidence of our customer is critically important to us. However, without clear evidence to justify this massive new recall, we believe that complying with USDA's request will only create confusion and concern in the marketplace and harm our company's reputation when we have been cooperative and proactive, and when we have evidence to show that our products are safe and compliant with federal rules.”
The company encourages consumers with questions or concerns to contact the Aspen Foods Consumer Hotline, +1.844.277.6802.