In an effort to ensure safe eating experiences and address potential consumer confusion, the National Chicken Council (NCC) today submitted an update to its 2016 petition to the  Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) that calls for mandatory labeling of raw, stuffed chicken products that may appear cooked and ready-to-eat.  This supplement updates the 2016 petition to reflect updates in collective understanding of these products.

These raw chicken products, typically sold frozen, would include items such as breaded, pre-browned chicken cordon bleu, chicken Kiev and chicken stuffed with broccoli and cheese.

The National Advisory Committee on Meat and Poultry Inspection (NACMPI) held a public meeting in September 2021 and specifically discussed these products. The NACMPI subcommittee concluded, in summary, that FSIS should reverify the labeling and validated cooking instructions for these products. In addition, it was recommended that labels should include language warning consumers not to use microwaves or air fryers if validated cooking instructions are not provided for these methods and cooking the product to a minimum of 165°F as measured using a meat thermometer. Moreover, the subcommittee discussed the NCC petition submitted in 2016 and recommended adoption of mandatory labeling requirements for this product category and that FSIS publish a compliance guide on validated cooking instructions for these products.

 

Specifically, NCC is requesting that the agency take the following actions:

  1. Conduct a rulemaking to adopt a regulation requiring that not-ready-to-eat (NRTE) stuffed chicken breast products that appear ready-to-eat (RTE) be prominently and uniformly  labeled to clearly inform consumers that the products are raw and how to properly handle and cook them; and
  2. Publish a Compliance Guideline explaining how to validate cooking instructions for NRTE stuffed chicken breast products that appear RTE, which incorporates NCC’s “Best Practices for Cooking Instruction Validation for Frozen NRTE Stuffed Chicken Breast Products.”

“NCC increasingly is aware that some consumers may be uncertain of the proper handling and cooking methods for NRTE stuffed chicken breast products that may appear RTE, and the proposed measures are necessary to ensure proper handling and cooking of these products,” said Ashley Peterson, Ph.D., NCC senior vice president of scientific and regulatory affairs. “This labeling would clearly inform consumers that these products are raw and require proper cooking while providing specific and uniform instructions on how to cook the products.”

NCC research has demonstrated that the proposed label regulations would be successful in increasing consumer awareness that these products contain raw poultry and must be cooked for safety.

“The health and safety of consumers is our number one priority,” Peterson concluded. “Making these labels mandatory and providing validated cooking instructions on every package of raw, breaded, stuffed chicken will give consumers one more tool to ensure a safe eating experience for them and their families.”

 

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