Products labeled with phrases such as "Cook and Serve," "Ready to Cook," and "Oven Ready" are intended to
convey to the consumer that the product is not ready-to-eat and must be fully cooked for safety. Although
products may appear to be pre-cooked or browned, such products should be handled and prepared no differently
than raw product.
Many frozen entrees containing stuffed poultry products, such as a poultry product stuffed with cheese and
other ingredients, typically are not-ready-to-eat and must be fully cooked as if they were raw.
Consumers must always follow the microwave instructions completely.
If using a microwave oven to cook meat and poultry products, be sure to take multiple temperature readings
at different locations throughout the product due to the non-uniformity of the heating process and the
creation of "cold spots."
Because a microwave oven typically cooks product at non-uniform rates, it is important to ensure that the
product is covered sufficiently for steam to build in the product, and that the product is set aside for a
sufficient time for the heat to uniformly spread throughout the product at the completion of the microwave
cycle. This will ensure that there are no "cold spots."
issuing a public health alert to remind consumers to ensure that frozen but raw meat and poultry products are
fully cooked before they are consumed. Using a food thermometer is the only sure way of knowing if your food
has reached a high enough temperature to destroy foodborne bacteria.
FSIS has linked several cases of Salmonella infections in Midwestern states to stuffed and breaded, frozen chicken
entrees. FSIS is working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and officials in Michigan and
Minnesota to identify the source of the infections and to ascertain whether the chicken products are the sole source
of the illnesses.
Food contaminated with Salmonella can cause salmonellosis, one of the most common bacterial foodborne illnesses. There is
evidence that consumers in these states may not have realized that the stuffed frozen chicken products contained raw chicken
that only had been browned but not fully cooked. These consumers used a microwave to warm the products.
The USDA recommends cooking poultry products similar to the stuffed frozen chicken products to an internal
temperature of at least 165 °F.
Consumers with food safety questions can phone the toll-free USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHOTLINE.
The hotline is available in English and Spanish and can be reached from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Eastern Time), Monday
through Friday. Recorded food safety messages are available 24 hours a day.