The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday that the outbreak of Salmonella infection linked to contaminated chicken livers has sickened 93 people in New York and 64 people New Jersey. The CDC is collaborating in the outbreak investigation with health departments in those and other, unnamed states.
At least 21 people have been hospitalized, the CDC reported. The illnesses began on or after March 13. The ill people range in age from younger than 1 to 97 years old. The median age is 10. No deaths have been reported.
According to earlier reports from state health departments, 9 cases in Maryland are part of the outbreak and Pennsylvania has 7. New York health officials have said Minnesota is one of the affected states. If these cases are indeed linked to the outbreak, there may be as many as 174 illnesses.
The CDC said in August it noticed a “sustained increase” in the number of Salmonella Heidelberg isolates with the outbreak strain reported by New York and New Jersey to PulseNet, the national foodborne illness surveillance system. Those states typically would report about 5 illnesses with the Salmonella Heidelberg strain per month, but from June through August they reported 30 to 40 cases a month.
No such increase was identified in other areas of the U.S. during that time, the report said. The outbreak strain has a genetic pattern that is common in the United States, and some cases may not be related to the outbreak, it noted.
Lab tests in New York identified the outbreak strain of Salmonella Heidelberg in samples of the “kosher broiled chicken livers” and chopped liver made from the chicken livers processed by Schreiber Processing Corp. of Maspeth, NY. The company does business as Alle Processing Corp/MealMart Co.
Customers may have incorrectly thought the use of the word “broiled” in the label meant the chicken liver was ready-to-eat, however they were supposed to be fully cooked before eating, the CDC said. The “kosher broiled chicken livers” were sold at retail stores and may have used as an ingredient in other prepared foods, including chopped liver sold in delis.
On Nov. 8, Schreiber Processing recalled an undetermined amount of the chicken liver products that had been distributed to retail stores and institutional users in Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania.
CDC Epi Curve Chart: