Today, January 11, 2012, the CDC issues its final update to the investigation into a multistate outbreak of Salmonella Heidelberg stemming from contaminated “kosher broiled chicken livers” from Schreiber Processing Corporation. While the product appears to be ready-to-eat, it is actually only partially cooked, and therefore requires additional cooking to be fully done and ready for eating. It is believed that consumers understandably thought the use of the word “broiled” in the label meant the chicken liver was ready-to-eat.
In total, 190 people were sickened with genetically indistinguishable Salmonella Heidelberg infections. The victims were from the following 6 states where the “kosher broiled chicken liver” product was distributed:
- New York (109)
- New Jersey (62)
- Pennsylvania (10)
- Maryland (6)
- Ohio (2)
- Minnesota (1)
For its investigation, the CDC joined with public health and agriculture officials in several states, including New York and New Jersey, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA-FSIS), and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Epidemiologic and laboratory investigations conducted by officials in local, state, and federal public health, agriculture, and regulatory agencies linked this outbreak to eating “kosher broiled chicken livers” from Schreiber Processing Corporation (doing business as Alle Processing Corporation/MealMart Company), and chopped chicken liver prepared from this product. These “kosher broiled chicken livers” are sold at retail stores and may be used as an ingredient in other prepared foods.
Among 39 ill persons for whom information is available, 28 (72%) reported consuming chicken liver products in the week before their illness began. Laboratory testing conducted by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets Laboratory Division identified the outbreak strain of Salmonella Heidelberg in samples of “kosher broiled chicken livers” and chopped liver products obtained from retail stores.
New York City conducted an enhanced epidemiologic investigation, which resulted in the identification of suspect food items that might have been a source of this outbreak. These suspect food items were collected for testing and the outbreak strain was found in “kosher broiled chicken liver” products.
On November 8, 2011, Schreiber Processing Corporation, of Maspeth, New York, announced a recall of an undetermined amount of its “kosher broiled chicken liver” products.