The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is investigating a possible salmonella contamination tied to raw kosher chicken.
Seventeen people have fallen ill and one has died since September 17. According to WebMD, the CDC interviewed 14 of the victims in connection with this outbreak, and all of the affected indicate that they had eaten chicken prior to being struck by food poisoning. Food safety investigators found a strain of salmonella at two processing plants, one of which handles the Empire brand. This has led the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service to issue a health alert on raw chicken produced by Empire Kosher Poultry, Inc.
Cases of salmonella poisoning have been reported in Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York, and Virginia.
Salmonellosis is one of the most common foodborne illnesses, and can cause diarrhea, abdominal cramping, and fever within 12 to 72 hours of consuming a contaminated product. Most people do not need to seek medical attention to treat their food poisoning. Symptoms typically last four to seven days. Older adults, children, and individuals with weakened immune systems are at risk for further complications and may require medical intervention.
Empire Kosher, based in Mifflintown, PA, has been producing kosher chicken since 1938.
In a statement on their web site, Empire Kosher expresses their sympathy while committing to work with the agencies investigating this outbreak.
“We are shocked and saddened to have just learned there may have been a death potentially related to a Salmonella outbreak and we extend our sympathies to anyone affected. While we have no data that connects this tragic event to our products, we have been cooperating fully with the United States Department of Agriculture – Food Safety Inspection Service (USDA-FSIS) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as they investigate a multistate Salmonella outbreak. We take food safety and the health of our consumers very seriously and any illness, even potentially linked to our products, is unacceptable. We continue to very aggressively work to ensure the quality and safety of our products.”
Empire Kosher has created a hotline for customers in the affected region. Those with questions or concerns can speak to their Consumer Specialists by calling 1-877-627-2803.
The USDA-FSIS recommends consumers maintain safe handling practices for raw chicken.
“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.”