CHICAGO (PRNewswire-USNewswire) — Aspen Foods remains confident in the safety of its raw, breaded, stuffed chicken breast products, which were produced in full compliance with U.S. Department of Agriculture regulations and inspected and passed by USDA, the company said today in a statement.
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.
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.
Our cooking instructions included on every package were validated as effective and approved by USDA. Our label clearly states that the product must be cooked in accordance with these instructions. USDA's statement in its news release questioning the effectiveness of those instructions is puzzling. We invite consumers to view this important new video about the safe preparation of raw, breaded, stuffed chicken breast products. The video was reviewed by USDA prior to its release to ensure that it was accurate and effective.