November 29, 2011
Salmonella Heidelberg outbreak spreads in US
The number of people affected by chicken livers contaminated with Salmonella Heidelberg in the US has increased to 179 people in six states, according to the updated CDC report.
This translates to 22 more cases in four more states that the CDC indicated in its initial report on November 8.
The kosher broiled chicken livers, sold by Schreiber Processing Corp. of Maspeth, New York, under the MealMart brand, were recalled on November 8. The chicken livers had been distributed to New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Minnesota, Ohio, Rhode Island, and Florida.
Customers may have incorrectly thought the word "broiled" in the label meant the chicken livers were ready-to-eat, however they were not fully cooked, the CDC has speculated.
In its latest report on the outbreak, the CDC said New York has now identified 99 cases of salmonellosis linked to the chicken livers, New Jersey has confirmed 61 related cases, Pennsylvania 10, Maryland six, Ohio two, and Minnesota one. The cases range in age from younger than one to 97 years old.
In August, the CDC noticed a "sustained increase," about 30 to 40 cases per month since June 2011, in the number of S. Heidelberg isolates with the outbreak strain reported by New York and New Jersey to PulseNet, the national foodborne illness surveillance system. Those states typically report only about five cases of S. Heidelberg a month.
New York City conducted an enhanced epidemiologic investigation, which traced the source of the outbreak to the chicken livers. Lab tests in New York then identified the outbreak strain in samples of the MealMart chicken livers and in chopped liver made from the MealMart chicken livers.
Consumers should discard any of these chicken liver products still in their homes, the CDC said. It also advised that chicken livers should be cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degrees and when partially cooked chicken livers are repackaged for sale, retailers should clearly label them as requiring further cooking.