Conference for Food Protection

2018 Biennial Meeting

Issue View | Council III | 2018 Scribe Packet

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Issue Number: Council III 022

Issue History

This issue was submitted for consideration at a previous biennial meeting, see issue: 2014 III-025 ; new or additional information has been included or attached .


Creation of a Committee - Safe Cooking of Rotisserie Chicken

Issue you would like the Conference to consider

There have been two separate Salmonella outbreaks involving rotisserie chicken cooked at retail food establishments, one outbreak was identified in 2013 and one in 2016/2017. Investigations identified that inadequate cooking and cross contamination contributed to the outbreaks (Kissler, 2017). Since multiple whole chickens are often cooked at one time in retail food establishments, maintaining and measuring appropriate temperature during cooking can be challenging. Findings from the outbreak investigations, and best practices developed to address these findings, could apply to any retail food establishment preparing rotisserie chicken. Therefore, the Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) recommends that the Conference for Food Protection (CFP) create a committee to develop guidance for retailers that addresses the unique issues associated with cooking rotisserie chickens. This information could also be used to develop training materials and used by Food Safety Managers as a reference in their Active Managerial Control Program.

Public Health Significance

The Food Code recommends that raw poultry be cooked to 165°F for 15 seconds per §3-401.11(A)(3). However, there are unique challenges with ensuring whole rotisserie chickens are cooked to the recommended temperature and that cross-contamination is avoided after cooking which are not currently addressed in existing guidance. These challenges, such as ensuring temperature measurement is taken on the coldest part of the largest bird and controlling traffic within the raw and ready-to-eat areas of the retail establishment, were identified as contributing factors in the two separate outbreaks involving rotisserie chicken in 2013 and 2016/2017 (Kissler, 2017). The 2013 outbreak investigation involved at least 32 case-patients that ate at a single retail food establishment. The 2016-2017 outbreak investigation involved 24 case-patients who reported consuming items containing rotisserie chicken at multiple stores of a single retail chain.

FSIS submitted an issue to the 2014 CFP Biennial Meeting to create a Committee for Safe Cooking of Rotisserie Chicken (2014 III-025) so that further instructions could be provided to ensure that all poultry is cooked thoroughly and that cross-contamination is avoided. No action was taken because it was believed the cooking recommendations in the Food Code were sufficient. Since the 2014 CFP Biennial Meeting, another outbreak associated with rotisserie chicken occurred. Investigations following the two Salmonella outbreaks identified common challenges with ensuring rotisserie chickens are cooked to the recommended temperature that are not addressed by current recommendations in the Food Code. Specifically, investigation findings indicated the potential for inadequate cooking of rotisserie chicken both as a result of the cooking procedures and inappropriate temperature monitoring. For example, temperature of the largest bird was not always monitored, variability in the location of temperature used for monitoring was noted (e.g., breast, thigh, or both), the depth of temperature measurement also varied between surface and internal temperature measurements, and thermometers did not always appear to be properly calibrated. In addition, practices were noted during one investigation that provided opportunities for cross-contamination (Kissler, 2017). For example, contact was noted between smocks and aprons used for ready-to-eat production and those used for raw production and employee traffic between raw and ready-to-eat areas was not well controlled. While cross contamination could be associated with any product, cooking of rotisserie chicken at retail food establishments presents a unique situation due to the handling of whole birds while skewering, loading, and unloading the rotisserie oven. These unique issues and the investigation findings are likely applicable to other retail food establishments that produce rotisserie chicken.

Forming a committee to develop a guidance document on safe handling and cooking of rotisserie chicken would provide a valuable resource for retailers that raises awareness of lessons learned from past outbreaks as well as best practices used throughout the industry. This guidance document would provide best practices for proper handling and preparation of raw rotisserie chickens, cooking procedures to achieve lethality in rotisserie chickens, temperature measurement, and post-processing handling. By following the recommendations in the guideline, retail food establishments would be able to ensure that Food Code recommendations related to cooking and cross-contamination of chicken are followed decreasing the likelihood of foodborne illness to consumers is decreased.


  • FSIS Recall Release (058-2013):
  • FSIS Recall Release (058-2013 Expanded):
  • FSIS 2016 Public Health Alert:
  • Kissler, B. 2017. Assessing Contributing Factors for Salmonella I 4,[5], 12, I:-Outbreak Investigations Associated with Pork and Rotisserie Chicken. International Association for Food Protection, July 10-12, 2017, Tampa, FL.

Recommended Solution: The Conference recommends...

that a Committee for the Safe Cooking of Rotisserie Chicken be created composed of members from all constituencies in the CFP. The Committee will be charged with:

  1. Identifying best practices and any existing guidance documents, that relate to the preparation of rotisserie chicken at retail,
  2. Developing a comprehensive guidance document for retail food establishments that includes detailed best practices for rotisserie chicken preparation to ensure Food Code recommendations are followed. These recommendations would include proper handling and preparation, cooking procedures to achieve lethality, temperature measurement, and post-processing handling,
  3. Determining appropriate methods of sharing the committee's work, such as:
    a) Posting to state and local health department websites or resource libraries,
    b) Incorporating into CFP training programs and posting to the CFP website, and
    c) Sending a letter to FDA requesting that the Food Code Annex be amended by adding a reference to the new guidance document and any existing guidance documents that the committee recommends, and posting this information on the CFP website.
  4. Reporting the committee's findings and recommendations to the 2020 Biennial Meeting of the CFP.

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