A public health alert has been issued concerning Empire Kosher products after investigating “multiple salmonella illnesses within the northeastern and mid-Atlantic United States,” according to the USDA.
The outbreak has killed a person in New York and sickened 17 people in multiple states: New York (11), Pennsylvania (4), Maryland (1) and Virginia (1) as of Monday, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Eight patients have been hospitalized.
Several patients who were sickened reported having eaten Empire Kosher-brand chicken, the CDC said.
The outbreak strain was found in samples of raw chicken collected from two facilities, including one that processes Empire Kosher-brand chicken, the agency said.
The raw chicken items, which may include raw whole chicken and raw chicken parts, were allegedly produced and sold to consumers from September 2017 to June 2018.
The illnesses date back to Sept. 25, 2017, with the most recent being reported on June 4 of this year. Officials said more recent cases of salmonella still may be reported.
The patients range in age from a baby younger than 1 to a patient who is 76 years old, the CDC said.
In rare cases, salmonella infection may spread into the bloodstream and then to other places in the body. It can be fatal if the person is not treated with antibiotics right away, the CDC said.
Symptoms of salmonella infection include diarrhea, fever and stomach cramps that occur 12 to 72 hours after being exposed to the bacteria, the CDC said.
Children younger than 5, adults older than 65 and those with weakened immune systems are more likely to develop severe illness when exposed to salmonella, but most patients recover within 4 to 7 days without treatment.
FSIS is concerned that some product may be frozen and in consumers’ freezers. Consumers who have purchased these products are urged to properly handle, prepare, and cook these raw chicken products.
FSIS advises all consumers to safely prepare their raw meat products, including fresh and frozen, and only consume chicken products that have been cooked to a temperature of 165°F. The only way to confirm that chicken is cooked to a temperature high enough to kill harmful bacteria is to use a food thermometer that measures internal temperature. Consumers should take proper precautions when handling raw chicken products. Proper hand washing after handling raw poultry, meat and eggs can greatly reduce the risk of bacterial cross-contamination to other foods and kitchen surfaces. It is important to prevent cross-contamination from raw poultry juices by washing counter tops and sinks with hot, soapy water.
Consumers and members of the media with questions can contact an Empire Kosher Specialist at 1-877-627-2803.
(YWN World Headquarters – NYC)