October 19, 2018

CDC Reports on Salmonella Heidelberg Chicken Outbreak

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is now expanding on the report from the Oregon Public Health Authority about a multistate Salmonella Heidelberg outbreak linked to raw chicken. Since June  4, 2012, 124 people in 12 states have been sickened with the outbreak strain of the bacteria.

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Of patients from whom information was obtained, 32% have been hospitalized. No deaths were reported. The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is conducting an investigation to determine the source of this outbreak. Public health officials in Washington and Oregon have identified Foster Farms brand chicken as the most likely source of the outbreak in their states.

Attorney Fred Pritzker, who has represented clients sickened by Salmonella from raw chicken, said “it’s important that chicken processors are held responsible for outbreaks such as these. Consumers shouldn’t have to worry that the food they bring into their homes is contaminated with enough pathogenic bacteria to make them sick.”

Since June 4, 2012, most of the ill persons have been reported from two states. Washington has 56 patients, while Oregon has 38. The CDC is not releasing the other states where the remaining 30 patients reside. Illness onset dates range from June 4, 2012 to January 6, 2013. The patient age range is from less than 1 year to 94 years, with a median age of 24 years. Fifty-five percent of patients are female. About 81% of ill persons interviewed reported consuming chicken the week before becoming ill.

Consumers can protect themselves by handling raw chicken and other raw meat products with care. Always wash hands before and after handling raw meat. Clean kitchen surfaces, utensils, and pots used to prepare raw meats thoroughly. Keep raw chicken separate from uncooked and ready to eat foods. And never wash raw chicken before cooking it. The bacteria on the skin will become aerosolized and spread around your kitchen.

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