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October 7, 2000

Food Inspectors Warn of Possible Contamination of 'House of Raeford' Barbecued Chickens

Washington DC (SafetyAlerts) - The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service is warning the public that approximately 7,640 pounds of barbecued chickens, produced by House of Raeford Farms, Inc., may be adulterated with Listeria monocytogenes.

The House of Raeford has failed to comply with FSIS' request for a voluntary recall of the product. FSIS is warning the public and distributors and has begun detaining the product in known locations. FSIS does not have authority to require a recall.

The product is House of Raeford brand "Fully Cooked BARBECUED CHICKEN" packaged for retail sales. The product labels bear establishment number "P-239" inside the USDA seal of inspection, and a code of "18808" also appears on the packages.

The ready-to-eat, barbecued chickens were produced on Aug. 22, and distributed to North Carolina, Massachusetts, and Arizona. The chickens bear packaging date codes of 237, 241, 242, 258, and 263.

"I want the public to be aware of the situation presented by these chickens that could pose a health hazard," said Thomas J. Billy, FSIS administrator. Because of the potential for foodborne illness, USDA urges consumers who have purchased the suspect products not to eat them.

The problem was discovered through routine FSIS microbiological sampling.

Consumption of food contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes can cause listeriosis, an uncommon but potentially fatal disease. Healthy people rarely contract listeriosis. Listeriosis can cause high fever, severe headache, neck stiffness, and nausea. Listeriosis can also cause miscarriages and stillbirths, as well as serious and sometimes fatal infections in those with weak immune systems--infants, the frail or elderly, and persons with chronic disease, with HIV infection, or taking chemotherapy.

FSIS has received no reports of illness associated with consumption of this product. Anyone concerned about an illness should contact a physician.

Consumers with food safety questions can phone the toll-free USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-800-535-4555. The hotline can be reached from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Eastern Time) Monday through Friday, and recorded food safety messages are available 24 hours a day.

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