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Pâté Sickens Six in Washington, Oregon and Ohio with Campylobacter

Illnesses linked to Heathman, Wildwood and Market of Choice store

Lynne Terry at The Oregonian reports that, since December 2013, Oregon health officials have been looking into the source of Campylobacteriosis that has sickened six individuals in Oregon, Washington and Ohio.

All cases report eating undercooked or raw chicken livers; most cases consumed chicken livers prepared as pâté. The cases in Ohio ate chicken liver pâté while visiting Oregon. One Washington resident was sickened by chicken liver pills.

The Oregon Health Authority is working with USDA and CDC on the investigation.

Terry reports that the chicken livers were processed at Draper Valley Farms in Mt. Vernon, WA. One person ate chicken liver pâté at the Heathman; another dined at Wildwood; the third Oregonian purchased chicken liver pate prepared and sold by a Market of Choice store. Draper Valley did not issue a recall. Under U.S. Department of Agriculture regulations, processors are allowed to sell chicken livers tainted with a high level of Campylobacter.

This is the second reported multistate outbreak of campylobacteriosis associated with consumption of undercooked chicken liver in the United States.

Chicken livers should be considered a risky food. A recent study found up to 77 percent of chicken livers tested were positive for Campylobacter. Washing chicken livers is not enough; chicken livers can be contaminated on the inside and on the outside, which is why thorough cooking is the only way to kill bacteria in contaminated livers.

Pâté made with chicken liver is often undercooked to preserve texture. It can be difficult to tell if pâté is cooked thoroughly because livers are often partially cooked then blended with other ingredients and chilled. Pâté prepared at a USDA-inspected facility is considered safe to eat because, in order to pass inspection, the livers must be cooked to a proper temperature.

Healthy persons infected with Campylobacter often experience diarrhea, headache and body ache, cramping, abdominal pain, and fever within two (2) to five (5) days after exposure to the organism. The diarrhea may be bloody and can be accompanied by nausea and vomiting. The illness typically lasts one (1) week and some infected persons do not have any symptoms. In persons with compromised immune systems Campylobacter occasionally spreads to the bloodstream and causes a serious life threatening infection.

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