Consumers urged to check for chicken linked to deadly Salmonella outbreak

The following story by Coral Beach first appeared in Food Safety News and is reposted here with permission

One person is dead and at least 16 others have been infected by a strain of Salmonella found during routine federal testing at two raw chicken processing plants.

The implicated raw chicken was packaged under the Empire Kosher brand. It was produced from September 2017 through June this year, according to a public health alert posted by the USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS).

No other brands have been named by federal officials. They also have not named the specific processing plants where contaminated chicken was found or who owns them. The FSIS did not include any information in its alert regarding when its routine testing detected the Salmonella I 4,[5],12:i:- in raw chicken samples.

Yesterday public health officials urged consumers to check their freezers for Empire Kosher brand chicken. Anyone who has it on hand should “properly handle, prepare, and cook these raw chicken products” to avoid cross-contamination and kill bacteria. Some consumers may prefer to discard the chicken to avoid the chance of infection. The chicken could have been packaged and sold to consumers as raw whole birds or raw chicken parts, FSIS reported.

Outbreak investigators have interviewed 14 of the 17 known victims. All 14 reported eating chicken in the days before becoming sick. Of nine victims with information available, seven reported eating Empire Kosher brand chicken before becoming ill, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

The CDC did not reveal how long it and state health departments have been investigating the outbreak. In its Aug. 29 investigation notice, the CDC reported it had matched Salmonella I 4,[5],12:i:- from patients’ lab work to the Salmonella found by the FSIS in the samples of raw chicken. 

Victims range from less than a year old to 76 years old, according to the CDC. Half of them have had symptoms so severe that they had to be admitted to hospitals. New York has been hardest hit, with 11 illnesses and one death. Pennsylvania has four confirmed cases. Maryland and Virginia have one each.  

The FSIS public health alert says the USDA’s sub-agency was notified June 18 about Salmonella illnesses in four states. The CDC’s notice said known illness onset dates range from Sept. 25, 2017, through June 4 this year.

In an undated statement on the corporation’s website, Empire Chicken officials said they have “no data that connects this tragic event to our products…” The statement emphasized that no recalls have been initiated in connection with the outbreak.

“CDC is not advising that people avoid eating kosher chicken or Empire Kosher brand chicken and no products are being recalled,” according to the company’s statement. “Empire Kosher, along with the USDA and CDC, want to remind consumers of safe handling practices for raw chicken. When handled and cooked properly to 165 degrees F, consumers can continue to have full confidence in chicken products, including the Empire Kosher brand.”

Recalls and Alerts: August 23 – 24, 2018

Here is today’s list of food safety recalls, product withdrawals, allergy alerts and miscellaneous compliance issues. The live links will take you directly to the official recall notices and company news releases that contain detailed information for each recall and alert.

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United States

Public Health Alert: USDA and Empire Kosher Poultry Inc. alert the public to a possible Salmonella outbreak in the US Northeast that may be linked to the company’s raw chicken. The Empire Kosher brand raw chicken items, which may include raw whole chicken, raw chicken parts, were produced and sold to consumers from September 2017 to June 2018. USDA was alerted to multiple Salmonella I 4,[5],12:i:- illnesses within the northeastern  and mid-Atlantic United States on June 18, 2018. Multiple confirmed cases have been identified in the northeastern and mid-Atlantic United States; many of the individuals reported consumption of Empire Kosher brand chicken products. Approximately one-half of the infected individuals were hospitalized. USDA has neither revealed the number of confirmed cases nor identified the US states where cases were reported. No recall has been announced. Consumers who have purchased these products are urged to properly handle, prepare, and cook these raw chicken products.

Food Safety Recall: Cargill Meat Solutions recalls EXCEL 93/7 FINE GRIND GROUND BEEF (10-lb chubs; Use/Frz. By Sep 05; Pack date 08/16/2018) due to E. coli O157:H7 contamination. The recalled items were shipped to warehouses in California and Colorado.

Food Safety Recall: Albertsons, Safeway, Pak ‘N Save, and Vons stores in Northern California, Colorado, Nebraska, Northern Nevada, New Mexico, South Dakota, and Wyoming recall various ground beef products due to potential E. coli O157:H7 contamination. Please refer to the recall notice for a complete list of affected products.

Homeopathic Product Safety Recall: Living Well Remedies, LLC recalls Weight Away Remedy (2-oz spray bottle; Lot# 111417LWL614), due to microbiological contamination.

Canada

Allergy Alert: Manna International Trading Ltd. recalls Vegemil brand Blackbean Fortified Soy Beverage (190mL; All product codes up to and including 2019.05.07; UPC 8801033775031) due to undeclared milk. The recalled product was distributed to retailers in Alberta and British Columbia.

Europe

Allergy Alert (Belgium): QNT recalls QNT brand Vanilla Macaroon Vegan Protein powder (500g; Lot #1703972/2; Expiry date 07/2020) due to undeclared milk.

Allergy Alert (Belgium): L’AFSCA recalls Alubias Blancas Cocidas Extra White Beans (400g glass jar; Expiry date 22/08/2022) due to undeclared sulfites.

Allergy Alert (Italy): Dolceamaro Srl recalls Raisins covered with dark chocolate (various lot numbers) due to undeclared sulfur dioxide. Please refer to the individual recall notices for additional details.

Allergy Alert (UK): James Hall & Co. Ltd recalls Smoked Turkey Barm and Beechwood Smoked Ham Barm take-away sandwiches due to undeclared barley.

Allergy Alert (UK – England and Wales only): Clayton Park Bakery Ltd recalls Small Brown Rolls (6-pack; Best before 22 to 27 August 2018) due to undeclared barley.

Food Safety Recall (Belgium): Smits bvba recalls various poultry-based products due to Salmonella contamination.

Food Safety Recall (France): THAERON recalls Thaeron brand Bulots cuits / cooked whelks (Lot #119318; Best before 24/07/2018) due to Listeria monocytogenes contamination.

Food Safety Recall (UK): Diamond Food Sales Ltd recalls various frozen Indian mackerel due to presence of histamine. Please refer to the recall notice for a complete list of affected products.

Food Safety Recall Update (UK): Ewing Seafoods recalls Smoked Salmon and Organic Smoked Salmon (all package sizes; all batch codes) due to Listeria monocytogenes contamination.