One person lost their life and 16 others have become ill from a Salmonella outbreak linked to kosher chicken according to the CDC. 8 people were hospitalized including the person who passed away. The Salmonella death was tied to kosher chicken
Illnesses were linked to multiple states including Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania and my home state of Virginia. The loss of life was reported in New York.
According to an article on CNN According to the CDC, the agency began an outbreak investigation in June after several cases were reported in New York among people who said they had consumed kosher chicken.
“In interviews, ill people reported eating kosher chicken, and when asked about the specific brand eaten, several people reported Empire Kosher brand. The outbreak strain was also identified in samples of raw chicken collected from two facilities, including one facility that processes Empire Kosher brand chicken,” the CDC said in its announcement.
“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,” Empire Kosher said in a statement.
The CDC is not telling consumers to avoid eating kosher chicken or Empire brand chicken. Rather, they should follow safe food preparation practices including washing hands before and after touching raw chicken and washing utensils, cutting boards and counters where raw chicken was prepared.
Consumers should also cook chicken thoroughly, making sure the inside temperature reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit. This is the temperature recommended to kill germs that cause illness such as salmonella.
Salmonella illness usually begins between 12 and 72 hours after consuming the bacteria. Symptoms can include diarrhea, fever and stomach cramps and can last four to seven days.
The earliest illness linked to this outbreak began September 25, and the most recent case began June 4.
Severe illness may require hospitalization and treatment with antibiotics. Those most at risk for severe illness and complications are children younger than 5 and adults over 65, as well as people with compromised immune systems.
The youngest patient in this outbreak is younger than 1 year old, and the oldest is 76.
The US Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service issued a public health alert “out of an abundance of caution,” the agency said.
“FSIS is concerned that some product may be frozen and in consumers’ freezers. Consumers who have purchased these products are urged to properly handle, prepare, and cook these raw chicken products.”
The CDC and the USDA are working with state health officials on the investigation.
Empire Kosher said the company is “cooperating fully” with federal health officials in the outbreak investigation although, “we have no data that connects this tragic even to our products … 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.”
Kosher food is prepared under supervision to ensure that the dietary laws followed by observant Jews are adhered to. This includes how kosher animals are slaughtered and processed.
How to Prevent Salmonella from Chicken?
While people should know not to eat undercooked chicken, not everyone knows all of the steps that need to take place in order to make sure the product is as safe as possible before it ends up in your grocery cart or on your plate.
1: It all starts even before the egg. Breeder hens—who produce the eggs—are attended to carefully and humanely. Healthy breeder hens lead to healthy eggs and eventually, healthy chicks. Additional measures are taken to ensure the chicks inherit the hens’ natural, good antibodies while preventing the sharing of any bad antibodies or diseases.
2: At the hatchery where the chicks are hatched, strict sanitation measures and appropriate vaccinations ensure the chicks are off to a healthy start. At the feed mill, the corn and soybean meal that the chickens eat is heat treated, killing any bacteria that may be present. And on the farm, veterinarians and strict biosecurity measures ensure chickens are safe and healthy.
3: At the processing facility, the U.S. federal meat and poultry inspection system complements efforts by chicken processors to ensure that the every single chicken product is safe, wholesome and correctly labeled and packaged. (U.S. Department of Agriculture inspectors are present in every facility that processes chickens – it is required by law.)
WHAT CAN YOU DO AT HOME?
Prevent salmonella from spreading in your home by handling and storing raw chicken properly, cooking chicken to 165 degrees Fahrenheit, and thoroughly washing all cooking and prepping surfaces, including counters, cutting boards, and hands.
These 4 simple tips for preventing the spread of salmonella in your home:
Wash hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds before and after handling raw chicken and after using the bathroom, changing diapers and handling pets.
Wash cutting boards, dishes, utensils, and countertops with hot soapy water after preparing each food item and before you go on to the next food.
Avoid cross-contaminating other foods. Separate raw chicken from other foods in your grocery shopping cart, grocery bags, your kitchen and in your refrigerator.
Use one cutting board for fresh produce and a separate one for raw meat, poultry and seafood.
Do not rinse raw poultry in your sink – it will not remove bacteria. In fact, it can spread raw juices around your sink, onto your countertops or onto ready-to-eat foods. Bacteria in raw meat and poultry can only be killed when cooked to a safe internal temperature.
Cook chicken thoroughly. All poultry products, including ground poultry, should always be cooked to 165 °F internal temperature as measured with a food thermometer; leftovers should be refrigerated no more than two hours after cooking.
The color of cooked poultry is not a sure sign of its safety. Only by using a food thermometer can one accurately determine that poultry has reached a safe minimum internal temperature of 165 °F throughout the product. Be particularly careful with foods prepared for infants, older adults and persons with impaired immune systems.
When reheating leftovers, cover to retain moisture and ensure that chicken is heated all the way through. Bring gravies to a rolling boil before serving.
Make raw chicken or meat products the last items you select at the store. Once home, the products must be refrigerated or frozen promptly.
Freeze raw chicken if it is not to be used within two days. If properly packaged, chicken can remain frozen for up to one year.
After cooking, refrigerate any uneaten chicken within two hours. Leftovers will remain safe to eat for two to three days.
Refrigerators should be set to maintain a temperature of 40 °F or below.
When marinating, make a separate batch of marinade to serve with the cooked chicken and discard anything that was used on the raw chicken. Always marinate chicken in the refrigerator, for up to two days.
By: Samantha Cooper, Contributing Writer (Non-Lawyer)