1 Dead, 17 Sick in Multi-State Salmonella Outbreak Linked to Empire Kosher Chicken

The raw chicken products were packaged and sold to consumers from September 2017 to June 2018.

What to Know

  • A possible salmonella contamination prompted the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service to issue a health alert
  • A number of salmonella illnesses within the northeastern and mid-Atlantic states linked the cluster to Empire Kosher brand raw chicken items
  • The raw chicken items were allegedly produced and sold to consumers from September 2017 to June 2018

Seventeen people in four states have come down with salmonella-related illnesses from kosher chicken, and one person in New York has died, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control said Wednesday.

The CDC said several of the ill people reported eating Empire Kosher-brand chicken before being sick.

Of the 17 cases, 11 are in New York, four are in Pennsylvania and one each happened in Maryland and Virginia. Those sickened with salmonella ranged in ages from 76 years old to less than a year old. 

The CDC said Tuesday the outbreak strain of Salmonella was identified in samples of raw chicken collected from two facilities, including one facility that processes Empire Kosher brand chicken.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) already issued a health alert on Aug. 24 about Empire Kosher raw chicken items.

The raw chicken products, which may include raw whole chicken and raw chicken parts, were packaged and sold to consumers from September 2017 to June 2018. 

Empire has not issued a statement on its website about the outbreak. A representative on the company's consumer phone line said inquiries would be referred to a different department.

The CDC did not tell consumers to stop eating kosher chicken or Empire Kosher brand chicken. The agency urged consumers who have purchased these products to properly handle and cook them by safely preparing the raw meat products, regardless if they are fresh or frozen, and only eat chicken products that have been cooked to a temperature of 165°F.

Consumers should take proper precautions when handling raw chicken products by washing their hands, counters, cutting boards and utensils thoroughly after handling raw poultry, meat and eggs, according to FSIS, adding that this step can reduce the risk of bacterial cross-contamination to other foods and kitchen surfaces.

Eating food contaminated with Salmonella can cause salmonellosis, one of the most common bacterial foodborne illnesses, according to the FSIS. The most common symptoms of salmonellosis are diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever within 12 to 72 hours after eating the contaminated product, according to the FSIS, which adds that the illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days.

While most people recover without treatment, others have such severe diarrhea that the patient needs to be hospitalized.

Additionally, the FSIS says, older adults, infants, and persons with weakened immune systems are more likely to develop a severe illness, however, any individual who is concerned about an illness should contact their health care provider.

Consumers can contact an Empire Kosher Specialist at 1-877-627-2803 with any questions.

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