UPDATE: Broiled Chicken Livers Sicken At Least 170 In 5 States

Kosher broiled chicken livers produced by Schreiber Processing Corporation (Maspeth, NY) have infected at least 170 people in five states with Salmonella Heidelberg, according to information supplied by the New Jersey, New York City and New York State health departments, and by the University of Minnesota’s Center for Infectious Disease Research & Policy (CIDRAP).

Illnesses are reported in New York State (56 in New York City and 33 in Upstate New York), New Jersey (64 – the majority from Ocean County), Pennsylvania (7), Maryland (9) and Minnesota (at least one).

The US CDC is actively involved in this outbreak investigation and expects to post an Investigation Report when the data have been fleshed out, according to CDC spokeswoman Lola Russell.

This outbreak is completely unrelated to another Salmonella Heidelberg outbreak that took place earlier this year. The earlier outbreak was associated with raw turkey meat that was contaminated with an antibiotic-resistant strain of Salmonella Heidelberg.

Illnesses linked to this outbreak occurred as early as February 2011, with the most recent illnesses having been reported in November. The earliest upstate New York illness onset date was April 10th, and the latest was October 20th, according to Peter Constantakes of the New York State Department of Health. At least 24 people have been hospitalized – 7 in New Jersey (reported as 11% of cases), 12 in New York City, and 5 in upstate New York.

The chicken livers, which appear to be ready-to-eat but are actually only partially cooked, are contaminated with Salmonella Heidelberg. Illnesses were linked to consumption of the chicken livers, and of chopped liver prepared in retail stores. New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets recovered the outbreak strain from samples of the broiled chicken livers and from samples of chopped liver produced in retail locations.

Schreiber Processing recalled the following products earlier today:

  • 10 lb. boxes with two, 5 lb. bags of “Meal Mart Broiled Chicken Liver; Made for Further Thermal Processing”
  • 10 lb. boxes of loose packed “Chicken Liver Broiled”

The recalled chicken livers were distributed to retail stores and institutional users in Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Florida, Ohio and Rhode Island. The livers may have been repackaged into smaller quantities, or made into chopped liver and sold in deli-style establishments.

The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has released a list of establishments in New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Minnesota that sold the chicken livers or are associated with the outbreak within their communities. USDA also has promised to publish its own retail distribution list, which typically does not include restaurants, institutions or caterers.

The following communities are believed to be affected:

  • New York: Bronx, Brooklyn, Cedarhurst, Far Rockaway, Ferndale, Flushing, Kew Gardens, Lawrence, Loch Sheldrake, Monsey, New York (Manhattan), Ocean Side, Parksville, Roslyn Heights, Schenectady, South Fallsberg, Suffern, Wesley Hills, Woodridge
  • New Jersey: Elizabeth, Englewood, Freehold, Highland Park, Howell, Lakewood, Moonachie, Passaic, Paterson, Teaneck
  • Pennsylvania: Mckeesrocks, Philadelphia
  • Maryland: Baltimore
  • Minnesota: New Hope

The labeling on the original packages of chicken livers indicates clearly that the Broiled Chicken Livers are “For Further Thermal Processing”.

Meal Mart Broiled Chicken Livers - 5 lb package

The label instructs that the chicken livers must be cooked thoroughly to 160°F, and refers the user to the separate Safe Handling Instructions on the package. But, as the recall notice states, these chicken livers often are repackaged into smaller quantities for retail sale. When that happens, the original label warning and cooking instructions are lost.

Consumers in one of the listed states or communities who purchased chicken livers that appear to be ready-to-eat, or who purchased chopped liver from a deli counter or supermarket deli display, should not eat the chicken liver. Anyone who develops symptoms of salmonellosis within one week after having eaten broiled chicken livers or chopped chicken liver should consult a doctor immediately.

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