An outbreak of Salmonella illness that caused one death and at sent at least 17 others to the hospital for treatment has been linked to raw chicken products packaged and sold by Empire Kosher brand, federal health authorities announced.
Although the outbreak of Salmonella illnesses linked to the chicken started nearly a year ago, health officials investigating the outbreak only recently discovered that those sickened had eaten kosher chicken. When asked what brand of chicken they had consumed, the patients reported eating Empire Kosher brand.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said its Food Safety and Inspection Service arm is concerned that the affected products, which include raw whole chicken and raw chicken parts, likely remain frozen in consumers’ freezers. The potentially contaminated chicken was sold from September 2017 and continued to be sold until June 2018.
Despite the belief that the affected chicken remains in consumers’ homes, no recall has been announced. Instead, federal health officials urged consumers to properly handle, prepare, and cook the Empire Kosher chicken products.
At this time, the Salmonella outbreak is limited to New York, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Virginia, but it’s possible consumers in other states have some of the affected chicken in storage.
The FDA advises consumers to only consume fresh or frozen chicken products that have been cooked to a temperature of 165°F. The only way to confirm that chicken is sufficiently cooked is to use a food thermometer that measures internal temperature.
Consumers should take proper precautions when handling raw chicken products. Thoroughly washing hands after handling raw poultry, meat, and eggs greatly reduces the risk of bacterial cross-contamination to other foods and kitchen surfaces. It’s also important to prevent cross-contamination from raw poultry by washing counter tops and sinks with hot, soapy water.
Eating chicken or other food contaminated with Salmonella bacteria can cause salmonellosis, one of the most common bacterial foodborne illnesses. Symptoms of salmonellosis are diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever that start within 12 to 72 hours after eating the contaminated food.
Salmonella illness usually lasts about a week. Although most people recover without treatment, others may be so severely sickened that they require hospitalization. Older adults, infants, and persons with weakened immune systems are most at risk to develop severe symptoms and complications of salmonellosis.