An outbreak of Salmonella tied to kosher chicken products has sickened 17 people in four states on the East Coast, according to federal health officials.
The illnesses occurred from September 2017 to June 2018 in Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania and Virginia, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Among the cases reported, eight people were hospitalized and one person from New York died, the CDC said.
Many of the people who got sick reported eating kosher chicken, specifically Empire Kosher brand chicken, prior to their illness, the CDC said.
An investigation revealed that the specific strain of Salmonella that's making people sick was present in samples of raw chicken tested at two poultry processing facilities, including one facility that processes Empire Kosher chicken.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) said that these potentially contaminated products were produced and sold from September 2017 to June 2018.
Right now, the CDC isn't advising people to avoid eating kosher chicken or Empire Kosher brand chicken. However, the agency said that this outbreak is a reminder that "raw chicken can contain germs that can make you sick."
The CDC urged consumers to take the proper precautions when handling and cooking raw chicken to avoid foodborne illness. These steps include washing your hands before and after preparing raw chicken, using a separate cutting board for raw chicken and other raw meats, properly washing utensils and surfaces that come into contact with raw chicken, and cooking raw chicken to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit (74 degrees Celsius) to kill harmful germs.
Symptoms of Salmonella infection include diarrhea, fever and stomach cramps; they typically appear about 12 to 72 hours after exposure to the bacteria, the CDC said. Most people recover from the illness within seven days without specific treatment, but some cases can be more severe. People at risk for more severe illness from Salmonella include young children, older adults and people with weakened immune systems.
In a statement on the company's website, Empire Kosher said it was cooperating fully with the USDA during the outbreak investigation. "We take food safety and the health of our consumers very seriously and any illness, even potentially linked to our products, is unacceptable. We continue to very aggressively work to ensure the quality and safety of our products," the statement said.
Editor's note: This story was updated on Aug. 30 to include a statement from Empire Kosher.
Originally published on Live Science.
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Rachael is a Live Science contributor, and was a former channel editor and senior writer for Live Science between 2010 and 2022. She has a master's degree in journalism from New York University's Science, Health and Environmental Reporting Program. She also holds a B.S. in molecular biology and an M.S. in biology from the University of California, San Diego. Her work has appeared in Scienceline, The Washington Post and Scientific American.