Sweden has figured out how to keep food free of salmonella. Why can’t Canada?

‘It’s not a small, quick, overnight measure. It’s a painful measure to industry’

Whole chicken tends to be cooked thoroughly enough to kill salmonella. It’s when the chicken is cut up and under-cooked that people are more likely to get sick. (Valeria Aksakova/Shutterstock)

When it comes to controlling salmonella outbreaks, Canada could learn a lot from Sweden.

The Nordic country is on a passionate mission to eliminate the harmful bacteria from its food. Thanks to strict regulations that apply to chickens and other animals, few Swedes get sick from salmonella.

Meanwhile, outbreaks caused by contaminated food, especially chicken, are frequent occurrences in Canada.

Every year, there are an estimated 87,500 cases of salmonella infection across Canada, according to the federal government’s yearly foodborne illness estimates. While it’s not clear how many of them were caused by contaminated chicken, as of last week, 566 Canadians had been diagnosed since May 2017 with salmonella infections linked specifically to frozen breaded chicken products, and 95 of them were so sick with fever and diarrhea, they had to be hospitalized.

As a consequence, there have been 13 recalls of raw breaded chicken products in Canada since July 2017.

While Canadians continue getting sick, Sweden is leading the fight against foodborne illness. Along with strict biosecurity rules, it’s normal procedure in the country to heat chicken feed to kill bacteria and to regularly inspect for salmonella contamination. MORE

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