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170 Sick from Salmonella-Tainted Chicken Livers

Since February this year, kosher broiled chicken livers have sickened at least 170 people in five states with Salmonella Heidelberg, according to state and local health departments.

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In connection with the outbreak, Schreiber Processing Corporation of Maspeth, NY announced a recall of its MealMart brand chicken livers on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services said it had identified 64 cases of Salmonella infection linked to the kosher broiled chicken livers from Schreiber, which does business as Alle Processing Corp./MealMart Co.  New Jersey said most of those stricken in that state were in Ocean County.

The New York State Department of Health said 33 upstate outbreak cases had been reported, while the New York City Department of Health said it had identified 56 cases related to the outbreak.  Maryland health officials have received reports of 9 cases and Pennsylvania has confirmed seven outbreak cases, CIDRAP News reported.

Minnesota was the fifth state with an outbreak case, according to the NYC health department.

At least 17 people have been hospitalized – 12 in New York City, and 5 in upstate New York.

The New York City health department said it recognized a pattern of people reporting that they ate kosher broiled chicken livers or chopped liver before their illnesses began and this past week confirmed that the cases of Salmonella Heidelberg identified from February through  this month had a common DNA “fingerprint.” The health department said the outbreak Salmonella strain was found in samples of MealMart-brand kosher broiled chicken livers, as well as in samples of chopped liver made from the MealMart-brand livers.

Although consumers reported they thought the chicken livers were fully cooked, the livers were only partially cooked, and thus not safe to eat without additional cooking. The product label states “broiled chicken livers,” which may have given the wrong impression, but it also warns “cook thoroughly” and “for further thermal processing.”

Chicken livers repackaged for retail sale or chopped liver made from the MealMart product would not have carried the original label, the recall notice observed.

Schreiber Processing recalled the following products on Tuesday:

– 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 recall notice said the suspect chicken livers were distributed to retail stores and institutional users in Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Florida, Ohio and Rhode Island.

The chicken livers were also repackaged and in smaller quantities in retail stores, or used to make chopped liver sold in deli-style establishments — in the following communities:

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

FSIS said this strain of Salmonella Heidelberg is not the one responsible for the recall and illnesses earlier this year involving ground turkey. The agency said it is not yet known if the outbreak strain is drug-resistant.

Consumers in any 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, health officials warned. They advised anyone developing symptoms of salmonellosis within one week after having eaten broiled chicken livers or chopped chicken liver to consult a doctor immediately.

© Food Safety News
  • http://www.foodsafetybootcamp.com Kevin

    I think the key issue here is that consumers need to read the labels on the food and follow all the directions. Proper cooking more than likely would have prevented many of these cases. This doesn’t excuse the contamination but the reality is many of the foods we buy and consume are contaminated with foodborne bacteria and viruses. Proper cooking and holding temperatures are our last line of defense.

  • http://www.phfspec.com Peter Cocotas

    “For further thermal processing” is a poor choice of words.

  • Mike

    On the Beef processing side, “For Further Thermal Processing” would mean to be cooked in a further plant processing step and not for retail sales. Is the definition of this statement different for poultry? If not why was it available for retail sales?

  • Minkpuppy

    Mike,
    You’re absolutely right–If I understand the label regs correctly, The “For Further Thermal Processing” statement is only allowed on product that is being sold to a USDA approved cook plant regardless of whether its poultry or beef, and the originating plant has to get certifications that it was cooked to lethality. It is not intended to be sold as a fully cooked product at retail.
    It sounds like the delis/grocery stores got the product in and repackaged it for the deli case without double checking that they had the cooked chicken livers. Or maybe someone screwed up when they pulled the order and shipped the wrong ones. Who knows. Several errors all the way from plant all the way down to consumer here.
    The wording on the label is horrible–most labels of this nature that I’ve seen say straight up “FOR COOKING ONLY”. No confusion there.