Foster Farms Salmonella Outbreak


Fifty more people have become ill due to consuming Foster Farms chicken contaminated with salmonella. This outbreak of Salmonella Heidelberg, which is currently most prevalent in California, is reportedly resistant to antibiotic treatment. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), there has been no recall of Foster Farms poultry as the contamination cannot be linked to one specific plant.

The number of people who have become sick with salmonella poisoning since March of last year has climbed to 574. Nearly 40 percent of cases have been hospitalized. However, no deaths have been reported. As of May 22, seven different strains of Salmonella Heidelberg have been reported in 27 states as well as Puerto Rico. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) there have been eight new outbreaks each week, on average. The states with the most number of cases include California, Arizona, Washington, Oregon, Nevada and Texas. Since the beginning of the year, 144 people have become ill due to salmonella poisoning. The CDC reported that people in most cases were infected through consuming freshly bought chicken, a majority of which came from Foster Farms. Most of Foster Farms manufacturing locations are in California, which would serve as a possible explanation for why 77 percent of reported cases of salmonella poisoning are from California.

During the same time that Foster Farms was linked to salmonella outbreaks, their plant in Livingston, California was suspended due to a lack of sanitation in the facility. In January of this year, the USDA inspectors temporarily shut down the facility after they found cockroaches inside. Two more of their plants located in Fresno, California were at risk for being closed down, also due to an unclean environment. However, after Foster Farms implemented new sanitation and safety measures they were given the approval to remain open.

Foster Farms has stated that their new procedures include a more thorough screening of the chickens before they are purchased, as well as increased safety on the farms and cleanliness in the plants. The USDA has stated that they have been keeping an eye on Foster Farm facilities, and reported that the number of salmonella contaminated products from Foster Farms has begun to decrease since the start of the outbreak. The CDC has provided health tips that may help prevent salmonella poisoning.They recommend not to wash raw poultry, as the bacteria may spread and contaminate other foods or surfaces. A suggested sanitizer for cleaning surfaces that have come into contact with raw poultry is combining one tablespoon of liquid chlorine bleach that is not scented with one gallon of water. As one of the most effective methods of killing salmonella and other bacteria is through heat, the CDC states that the internal temperature of poultry should be cooked to at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit. According to the CDC, the most common indications of salmonella poisoning consist of, but are not limited to, diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps. These symptoms usually occur between one to three days following the infection. It has been reported that each year in the United States there are over 40 thousand cases of salmonellosis and 400 deaths, due to the infection becoming more severe.

By Sarah Temori

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