One person is dead and seven others have been hospitalized in a Salmonella outbreak linked Empire Kosher chicken that has sickened 17 people in Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania and Virginia. A recall has not been issued.
Attorney Eric Hageman, who won a landmark Salmonella lawsuit this year against poultry producer Foster Farms, knows why.
Unlike E. coli, Salmonella is not considered an adulterant by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the federal agency charged with regulating meat and poultry. Decades ago, the USDA became aware that Salmonella is pervasive in the poultry processing industry. Instead of making it illegal to sell poultry contaminated with it, the USDA instead chose a consumer education plan (handle poultry safely, cook it to a proper temperature) to mitigate the problem.
The Foster Farms Salmonella outbreak sickened at least 472 people, many of whom were hospitalized with drug-resistant infections. Even when USDA found Salmonella levels on chicken produced at the company’s Fresno plant to be three and half times the federal standard the company did not issue a recall.
Until the jury handed down the verdict, awarding a $6.5 million settlement to the family of a toddler who suffered brain damage from a Salmonella infection he contracted after eating contaminated chicken, poultry producers had successfully argued for decades that they were under no obligation to address even pervasive Salmonella contamination in their facilities, Hageman said. The illness and outbreak were part of the 2015 Frontline documentary The Trouble with Chicken.
The case, argued by a team of lawyers from the national food safety law firm Pritzker Hageman, set an important food safety precedent. “It’s a rejection of the argument that poultry companies can produce contaminated product and then blame consumers who get sick from eating it,” Hageman said.
Empire Chicken Salmonella Outbreak
In this outbreak, 17 people in four states have been infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella I 4,,12:i:-. Eight people have been hospitalized and one person has died. The fatality occurred in New York. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), epidemiologic and traceback evidence indicates that some kosher chicken products are contaminated with Salmonella I 4,,12:i:- and have made people sick.
During interviews with health officials, several case-patients reported eating Empire Kosher brand chicken before developing symptoms of a Salmonella infection which include abdominal cramps, diarrhea and fever. The outbreak strain of Salmonella I 4,,12:i:- was also identified in samples of raw chicken collected from two facilities, one of which processes Empire Kosher brand chicken.
Although a recall was not issued, on August 24, Empire together with the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) issued a public health alert for raw chicken items produced and sold to consumers from September 2017 to June 2018. The alert applies to chicken that was sold whole and in parts over that nine-month period.
Contact our Experienced Salmonella Lawyers
To contact Eric Hageman and the experienced team of Salmonella lawyers at Pritzker Hageman, call toll-free at 1 (888) 377-8900 or complete the form below.