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USDA Orders Chicken Plant Closed

This week, federal regulators ordered Murray’s Chicken to cease processing at its South Fallsburg, NY poultry plant.

Steve Gold, Murray’s vice president of sales and marketing, said the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service allowed the company to ship chicken packaged Monday but ordered it otherwise closed until it corrects “facility issues.”

cutting-chicken-featured.jpg“It has nothing to do with the food safety of the product,” said Gold. “We’re doing everything we can to make sure our employees get back to work,” reported the Record Online.

Neither Gold nor Brian Mabry, an FSIS spokesman, would identify the specific issues causing the shutdown, but Mabry said FSIS’ concerns are directly related to food safety.

Mabry said the agency sent Murray’s a written warning in January concerning “[S]almonella controls.” The concerns centered on Murray’s ability to identify and minimize contamination by pathogens such as Salmonella.

FSIS also issued a notice in April about sanitation concerns and noncompliance with FSIS regulations, said Mabry. Following the April notice, the agency issued another notice Monday telling Murray to suspend operations.

“While FSIS is sympathetic to the economic implications of the suspension, our primary concern is to fulfill our regulatory responsibility to protect the public health,” said Mabry.

Gold said he was not aware of any FSIS issues with food contamination. The company frequently tests on its own and just passed a USDA test for Salmonella on July 23, he said.

“Either you pass or you fail,” he said. “We passed.”

Gold said Murray’s has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars addressing ongoing FSIS complaints about its aging plant. Because of that effort, owner Murray Bresky and company officials were shocked when they received the shutdown notice, he said.

“For some reason, it came to a head yesterday,” he said.

Murray’s 350 employees process about 35,000 chickens a day at the South Fallsburg plant.

Fallsburg Supervisor Steve Vegliante is confident the plant will reopen shortly. “I fed my children Murray’s chicken on Monday night, and will continue to do so,” he said.

© Food Safety News
  • jess

    i never heard of murray’s chicken and before looking them up, I just new they were a small processor of humanely & sustainably raised chickens and the usda are holding them hostage because the industrial processors want to put them out of business. Sickening. I am going to start buying murray’s chickens.

  • Doc Mudd

    If it takes a plant closure to focus the attention of management on cleaning up a food safety problem, then so be it.
    With 35,000 chickens processed per day, if each chicken found it’s way to a family of four that is 140,000 human beings (maybe 70,000 of them kids) potentially exposed to Salmonella or other food poisoning risks daily. Each day!
    Too bad for 350 workers (most probably minimum wage earners) that management cared so little for them as warnings from FSIS went unheeded since January.
    Seems Murray’s Chicken was playing chicken with FSIS…and Murray lost. Thank goodness FSIS has teeth and sometimes uses them to protect all of us when they have no other recourse.

  • Becca Snow

    Free range –real free range –poultry does not get salmonella poisoning. I suggest that only occurs when huge operators do not give poultry the light of day, fresh air or allow them to run about and peck to live. Instead, they are given grains that may contain feces and one infected bird makes for many.
    I’ve eaten Murray’s poultry for nearly a decade and have never become ill from their animal husbandry. However, I have become ill from genetically modified corn which contains Bacillus thuringiensis in each of its cells reproduces soil pathogen in my gut making me a pesticide factor and damaging my immune system. Of course the Czar for Food Safety ignores that health threat because of his conflict of interest.
    I suggest that the USDA is barking up the wrong tree.

  • Becca Snow

    Nothing was found out of the ordinary in Murray’s Chicken. Small producers are not the problem, it’s the big ones that have manure piles in their hen houses, (free range chicken at Murrays likely do not have such living quarters which is the reason I’ve never been sick eating Murray’s chickens).
    Other the other hand, at Quality Egg, the FDA found:
    Chicken manure in piles up to 8 feet high under five egg-laying houses. “The outside access doors to the manure pits at these locations have been pushed out by the weight of the manure, leaving open access to wildlife or domesticated animals,” the FDA report said.
    •Chicken house doors blocked by excessive amounts of manure in the manure pits.
    •”Dark liquid which appears to be manure was observed seeping through the concrete foundation to the outside of the laying houses.”
    •Escaped birds using the piles of manure to enter the egg-laying areas.
    •Live rodents sighted by inspectors.
    •Living and dead flies “too numerous to count” in various houses.
    •Living and dead maggots in the manure piles.
    Read the report at: http://www.scribd.com/doc/36635257/FDA-report-on-egg-recall-company-Quality-Egg-LLC
    No where in the report is Murray’s Chicken mentioned as the cause of the salmonella poisoning.
    Murray’s did not lose, they were cleared after four days of checking by the FSIS.

  • Jenni X

    Murry’s is not free range chicken. They coop their chickens like everyone else.

  • J.

    I had bought for many years Murray chicken. But I will stop eating chicken at all.. 2 weeks ago,I bought a M.chicken, small $9,in NYC and when I have almost finished cutting it,when trying to cut the Breast in Two, I threw it away completely, including utensils. ( I buy whole and cut it myself as soon as I bring it home. Separate pieces after I clean it and bath them with lemon to freeze to have it ready to cook when need it) I want to say no more because this could be a separate case and don’t want to damage anybody’s reputation. I should’ve have taken it back to the supermarket.

  • JESSE STUBBS

    I, NOW LIVES IN CA. WORKED FOR MURRY MANY YEARS, EVEN TRAVLED TO PA ,TO SEE MURRY.S CHICKENS MURRYS CHICKENS IS THE BEST CHICKENS YOU EVER WANTS TO EAT , I,AM VERY HONORED TO KNOW THAT MURRY,S CHICKENS IS STILL , THE BEST IN SULLIVAN CO.

  • JESSE STUBBS

    I, NOW LIVES IN CA. WORKED FOR MURRY MANY YEARS, EVEN TRAVLED TO PA ,TO SEE MURRY.S CHICKENS MURRYS CHICKENS IS THE BEST CHICKENS YOU EVER WANTS TO EAT , I,AM VERY HONORED TO KNOW THAT MURRY,S CHICKENS IS STILL , THE BEST IN SULLIVAN CO.