Is Kosher Food Safer?

| Headline Health – Makers of kosher food products have popularized the notion that their products are superior because “we answer to a higher authority.” 

Is kosher food really safer or of higher quality than traditionally produced foods? The latest in this year’s string of salmonella outbreaks is cause for concern …

| Food Safety News, August 25, 2018  – The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) and Empire Kosher Poultry Inc. issued a public health alert late Friday “out of an abundance of caution” due to concerns about Salmonella illnesses reported in the northeastern and mid-Atlantic United States that may be associated with raw chicken products.

Empire Kosher Poultry, Inc. is the largest producer of kosher poultry in the United States.

The company’s headquarters, hatchery, and processing facility are located in Mifflintown, Pennsylvania.

The public health alert is over Empire Kosher brand raw chicken items, which may include both raw whole chicken, and raw chicken parts, that were produced and sold to consumers from September 2017 to June 2018.

On June 18, 2018, FSIS was notified of multiple Salmonella I 4,[5],12:i:- illnesses within the northeastern and mid-Atlantic United States.

Working in conjunction with public health partners, FSIS determined that there is a potential link between Empire Kosher brand raw chicken products and this illness cluster.

Based on the available epidemiological information, multiple case-patients have been identified in the northeastern and mid-Atlantic United States, many of whom reported consumption of Empire Kosher brand chicken products.

Approximately half of the affected case-patients have been hospitalized due to illness with illness onset dates ranging from September 2017 to June 2018.

FSIS continues to work with the company and public health partners and will provide updated information should it become available.

Consumption of food contaminated with Salmonella can cause salmonellosis, one of the most common bacterial foodborne illnesses.

The most common symptoms of salmonellosis are diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever within 12 to 72 hours after eating the contaminated product. The illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days.

Most people recover without treatment. In some persons, however, diarrhea may be so severe that the patient needs to be hospitalized. Older adults, infants, and persons with weakened immune systems are more likely to develop a severe illness. Individuals concerned about an illness should contact their healthcare provider.

FSIS is concerned that some product may be frozen and in consumers’ freezers. Consumers who have purchased these products are urged to properly handle, prepare, and cook these raw chicken products.

FSIS advises all consumers to safely prepare their raw meat products, including fresh and frozen, and only consume chicken products that have been cooked to a temperature of 165°F.

The only way to confirm that chicken is cooked to a temperature high enough to kill harmful bacteria is to use a food thermometer that measures the internal temperature.

Consumers should take proper precautions when handling raw chicken products. Proper hand washing after handling raw poultry, meat and eggs can greatly reduce the risk of bacterial cross-contamination to other foods and kitchen surfaces.

It is important to prevent cross-contamination from raw poultry juices by washing counter tops and sinks with hot, soapy water.

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