A salmonella outbreak across four states that make 17 people ill and cause death has been linked to a popular brand of kosher chickens, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The Washington Post / The Washington Post / Getty Images
Cases have been reported since last September in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia and New York – where death occurred.
The CDC said that some of the people who got sick, Empire kosher brand chicken and the strain was also identified in raw chicken, which was collected by a facility that processes for the brand.
No recall has been issued.
"We do not advise people to eat kosher chicken or chicken from the Empire Kosher because there are steps taken to safely eat the product," said CDC spokesman Benjamin Haynes to NPR. "People can certainly make individual decisions about what kind of chicken to eat, based on the common information about the outbreak."
Proper precautions include cooking the meat to an interior temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit, hand washing with warm soapy water 20 seconds after handling, and thoroughly washing the surface or article that comes in contact with the raw meat.
The CDC also advises people not to wash raw chicken as it can cause juices to splash and spread germs. (19659009) Despite the simple steps, the CDC estimates that salmonella in the US suffers more than one million every year.
Americans Eating More Chicken Than Any Other Meat It's safe to assume that salmonella may harbor salmonella before cooking, Haynes says.
Salmonella, a type of bacteria that lives in the intestines of animals and humans, is excreted in excrement. When an animal is slaughtered, the feces can reach the meat.
Common symptoms include diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramping, which can occur between 12 hours and 3 days after infection and may last up to a week.
Most people recover without treatment and without lasting effects, but the very old, very young, and those with weakened immune symptoms are more prone to complications. According to the CDC, 450 people die every year from salmonella poisoning.
According to the CDC, the eruption associated with the "Empire Kosher" brand seems to end in June. Nevertheless, the risk may not be over yet.
The US Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service has issued a public health alert "out of great caution" that is worrying that some of the contaminated meat – including whole chicken and chicken pieces – could remain in freezers
The statement told Empire Kosher that it is fully cooperating with food safety representatives
"We take the food safety and health of our consumers very seriously, and any disease that may be associated with our products is unacceptable," the company said. "We continue to work aggressively to ensure the quality and safety of our products."
Kosher foods follow the Jewish dietary laws which, in the case of meat, include a ritual slaughter of the animal. Certified kosher products have also earned a reputation for being healthier and safer than other foods, and only about 8 percent of kosher consumers are religious Jews, according to Kosher: Private Regulations in the Industrial Nutrition Period
But as Berkeley Wellness states, little research has been published notes an actual difference in safety between kosher and non-kosher food.