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US Salmonella Heidelberg outbreak spreads

The number of people affected by chicken livers contaminated with Salmonella Heidelberg in the US has risen to 179 people in six states, according to an updated CDC report. That is 22 more cases in four more states than the CDC reported in its initial report on 8 Nov 2011.

The kosher broiled chicken livers, sold by Schreiber Processing Corp. of Maspeth, New York, under the MealMart brand, were recalled 8 Nov 2011. 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 6, Ohio 2, and Minnesota 1. Those ill range in age from younger than 1 to 97 years old.

In August 2011, 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.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Photo source: Science Photo Library

Editor WorldPoultry

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