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.
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
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.