Chicken Nuggets Recalled Over Staph Contamination Fears

More than 20,000 pounds of gluten-free chicken nuggets are being recalled after testing positive for Staphylococcus bacteria, which can cause food poisoning.

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Federal officials said Pennsylvania-based Murry's Inc., is recalling 12-oz. boxes of Bell & Evans Gluten Free Breaded Chicken Breast Nuggets with a "best by" date of March 25, 2016. The brand is sold in multiple locations in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, and in most states across the nation.

Consumers who purchased the product are urged to return it to their place of purchase. No illnesses have been reported.

The problem was discovered by the Colorado Department of Agriculture during a routine retail surveillance and sampling program, which is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture at at a Federal Emergency Response Network lab. After being notified of the positive test result, the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service conducted traceback activities.

Staphylococcal food poisoning is a gastrointestinal illness. It is caused by eating foods contaminated with toxin-producing Staphylococcus aureus.

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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.

Anyone concerned about a reaction should contact a healthcare provider.

"Food safety is a core value for Murry’s. We value the trust our customers place in the products we produce for them," Murry’s, Inc. President Ira Mendelson said in a statement. “We will conduct a full internal investigation in response to Colorado’s findings and take every action possible to prevent this problem from happening again."

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