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Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Press Release # 028-11
Wednesday, November 9, 2011

MEDIA CONTACT: (347) 396-4177
Susan Craig/Chanel Caraway: PressOffice@health.nyc.gov


NYC Health Department Warns MealMart Kosher Broiled Chicken Livers Can Cause Illness from Salmonella Bacteria

Salmonella Heidelberg bacteria strain found in chicken liver product that is not fully cooked; 56 cases of illness identified in NYC

Nov. 9, 2011  The New York City Health Department has identified 56 cases of Salmonella bacteria-related illness in New York City that are linked to eating MealMart brand kosher broiled chicken livers from the Schreiber Processing Corporation that were not cooked. Even though they are labeled as “broiled” and may appear cooked, chicken livers from this manufacturer are not thoroughly cooked and should not be eaten unless they are cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Salmonella illness has also been linked to chopped liver made from this uncooked product. Chopped liver made by the consumer after purchasing this product should also be fully cooked before consuming or discarded. Cases of illness have also been identified in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Minnesota.

MealMart has issued a recall of this product and is cooperating with the Health Department’s investigation. The New York State Departments of Agriculture and Markets and Health, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service have collaborated with the NYC Health Department to identify cases of illness associated with this Salmonella Heidelberg strain, a common bacteria associated with food poisoning in humans.

The Health Department recognized a pattern of people reporting that they ate kosher broiled chicken livers or chopped liver before their illness began and this past week confirmed that the cases of Salmonella Heidelberg identified during the period of February through November 2011 had a common DNA “fingerprint.” Of the 56 people who were diagnosed with infection from this Salmonella strain, 12 were hospitalized. This Salmonella strain has been found in samples of kosher broiled chicken livers and in samples of chopped liver made from the same broiled chicken liver produced by MealMart Company in Maspeth, N.Y. Though consumers reported that they believed the product to be fully cooked, it is not safe to eat without additional cooking.

In stores, “broiled chicken livers” are often re-packaged and sold in smaller quantities or are used to prepare chopped liver sold at deli-style establishments. Retail stores and other establishments in the following communities may have either re-packaged this product or used it to prepare chopped liver that was sold to customers:

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

For specific retailers that sell these products and other establishments associated with this outbreak within these communities, visit the Salmonella outbreak link on the NYC Health Department’s website. The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service has also posted information about this recall on the USDA website. 

Symptoms of Salmonella infection include diarrhea, abdominal pain, cramps and fever. Symptoms usually begin 12 to 72 hours after exposure, but can begin up to a week after exposure. Salmonella infections usually resolve in 5-7 days, and most people recover without treatment. In some persons, diarrhea may be so severe that hospitalization is necessary. In rare cases, Salmonella infection can lead to death, particularly in the elderly or those with weakened immune systems. Each year, 1,200 to 1,300 cases of Salmonella are diagnosed in New York City.

Salmonella bacteria are frequently found in raw chicken or other uncooked meats. Consumers should always follow safe food handling practices to prevent transmission of Salmonella bacteria to humans. Avoid getting sick from Salmonella illness and contaminating other foods with Salmonella by:

  • Washing hands, utensils and cutting boards after they have been in contact with raw meat and before they touch other food.
  • Cooking meat thoroughly to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit before consumption.
  • Putting cooked meat on a clean platter rather than on the one that was used to hold raw meat.

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