CDC: Salmonella bacteria leads to 1 death, 17 illness cases from kosher chicken

At least 17 people were sickened and one person has died as a result of eating chicken that was possibly contaminated with Salmonella bacteria, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said Wednesday.

The cases have been reported in New York, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia, according to the CDC. Of those, eight have been hospitalized -- including one person who died in New York.

While illnesses related to this outbreak occurred in September, the CDC only began investigating in June after the New York State Department of Health said "several" of those who have become ill "reported eating kosher chicken."

In interviews conducted by the CDC, "people reported eating kosher chicken, and when asked about the specific brand eaten, several people reported Empire Kosher brand," the CDC said. Despite the reports, however, the CDC said it is "not advising that people avoid eating kosher chicken or Empire Kosher brand chicken."

In a statement on their website, Empire Kosher foods said they are "shocked" by the news, however, there is no recall on any of their products.

"While we have no data that connects this tragic event to our products, we have been cooperating fully" with the USDA and the CDC in their investigation.

"We are shocked and saddened to have just learned there may have been a death potentially related to a Salmonella outbreak and we extend our sympathies to anyone affected. While we have no data that connects this tragic event to our products, we have been cooperating fully with the United States Department of Agriculture - Food Safety Inspection Service (USDA-FSIS) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as they investigate a multistate Salmonella outbreak. 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.

CDC is not advising that people avoid eating kosher chicken or Empire® Kosher brand chicken and no products are being recalled. Empire® Kosher, along with the USDA and CDC, want to remind consumers of safe handling practices for raw chicken. When handled and cooked properly to 165°F, consumers can continue to have full confidence in chicken products, including the Empire® Kosher brand. If you live in these areas identified and have any questions please call 1-877-627-2803 to speak with an Empire® Kosher Consumer Specialist."

The CDC agency issued tips on how to cook and handle raw chicken, adding that "this outbreak is a reminder that raw chicken products can have germs that spread around food preparation areas and can make you sick."

Some tips from the CDC include:

More information about the investigation can be found through the CDC report.

Read more about the salmonella cases on