Kosher? Stay Away From Liver, Or Chance Salmonella!

Source: talkoftomatoes/Flickr

The Department of Health is cautioning consumers to not buy or eat any kosher chicken liver for the time being, following an outbreak of Salmonella in the New York City metro area.

In the five boroughs alone, the department has identified 56 cases of Salmonella bacteria-related illness, linked to eating MealMart brand kosher broiled chicken livers from the Schreiber Processing Corporation. Though marked “broiled,” and may appear cooked, the livers were not thoroughly heated. Salmonella illness has also cropped up in cases where consumers ate chopped liver made from this product. The agency warns that chicken livers are often repackaged into smaller quantities, or used to create chopped liver in deli-style establishments, so may not carry the MealMart name.

In addition to New York City, cases have also been identified in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Minnesota.

From the Health Department’s alert:

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.

Wondering what the signs of Salmonella are? Here you go:

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.