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Salmonella Chicken Recall: Tyson, Yes; Foster Farms, No. Why?

Opinion

Here’s the question that FSIS, Tyson and Foster Farms should answer: Why does Tyson recall its product after seven people are sickened and Foster Farms recalls nothing after 550 people are sickened in two outbreaks?

According to FSIS, a food recall is a voluntary action by a manufacturer or distributor to protect the public from products that may cause health problems or possible death. A recall is intended to remove food products from commerce when there is reason to believe the products may be adulterated or misbranded.

The most serious type of recall, a Class I recall, involves a health hazard situation in which there is a reasonable probability that eating the food will cause health problems or death. The definition for “adulterated” is found in 9 CFR 301.2: Adulterated shall apply to any carcass, part thereof, meat or meat food product under one or more circumstances (for example: if it contains poisonous substances, pesticides, or chemicals; or if it has been prepared under insanitary conditions).

Tyson Salmonella Heidelberg Outbreak AND Recall

FSIS was notified of a Salmonella Heidelberg cluster of illnesses on Dec. 12, 2013. Working in conjunction with the Tennessee Department of Health (TDH), FSIS determined that there is a link between the mechanically separated chicken products from Tyson Foods and the illness cluster in a Tennessee correctional facility. Based on epidemiological and traceback investigations, seven case-patients at the facility have been identified with illnesses, with two resulting in hospitalization. Illness onset dates range from Nov. 29, 2013, to Dec. 5, 2013. FSIS continues to work with TDH on this investigation and will provide updated information as it becomes available.

Tyson Foods, Inc., a Sedalia, MO, establishment, is recalling approximately 33,840 pounds of mechanically separated chicken products that may be contaminated with a Salmonella Heidelberg strain, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced today.

The mechanically separated chicken products were produced on Oct. 11, 2013. The following products are subject to recall: 40-lb. cases, containing four, 10-lb. chubs of “TYSON MECHANICALLY SEPARATED CHICKEN.” The products subject to recall bear the establishment number “P-13556” inside the USDA mark of inspection with case code 2843SDL1412 – 18. These products were shipped nationwide for institutional use only. The products are not available for consumer purchase in retail stores.

Foster Farms Salmonella Heidelberg Outbreaks with NO Recalls

Outbreak No. 1:  In July 2013 a total of 134 persons infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Heidelberg were reported from 13 states. Collaborative investigative efforts of local, state, and federal public health and regulatory agencies indicated that Foster Farms brand chicken was the most likely source of this outbreak.

Testing conducted by the Washington State Public Health Laboratories identified the outbreak strain of Salmonella Heidelberg in four intact samples of chicken collected from three ill persons’ homes in Washington, which were traced back to two Foster Farms slaughter establishments.

Outbreak No 2:  In December 2013, a total of 416 persons infected with seven outbreak strains of Salmonella Heidelberg have been reported from 23 states and Puerto Rico.

Epidemiologic, laboratory, and traceback investigations conducted by local, state, and federal officials indicate that consumption of Foster Farms brand chicken is the likely source of this outbreak of Salmonella Heidelberg infections. On Oct. 7, 2013, U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA-FSIS) issued a Public Health Alert due to concerns that illness caused by Salmonella Heidelberg is associated with chicken products produced by Foster Farms at three facilities in California.

So, setting aside why FSIS does not consider Salmonella an adulterant and does not have the power to order a recall, why does Tyson recall its product after seven are sickened and Foster Farms recalls nothing after 550 are sickened in two outbreaks?

And, do not think this is an isolated event.

Although FSIS threatened Foster Farms with taking its inspectors and going home, that did not happen. Apparently these letters did the trick – letters ONETWO and THREE that FSIS sent to Foster Farms – well, at least until FSIS found cockroaches and suspended operations at one Foster Farms facility in California. I did a little searching on www.outbreakdatabase.com and found more than a few example of meat recalls – chicken and beef – due to Salmonella contamination.

Salmonella Enteriditis Due to Contaminated Cargill Ground Beef 2012 40 sick – On July 22, 2012, Cargill Meat Solutions announced a recall of 29,339 pounds of fresh ground beef products due to possible contamination with Salmonella Enteriditis. Using epidemiologic and traceback data, public health investigators in eight states …Read More »

Hannaford Hamburger Ground Beef 2011 20 sick – On Dec. 16, Hannaford, a Scarborough, ME-based grocery chain, recalled fresh ground beef products that may have been contaminated with a strain of Salmonella Typhimurium. The recall resulted from an investigation into human illness. By January…Read More »

Cargill Meat Solutions Ground Turkey 2011 136 sick – The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) issued a public health alert on July 29 due to concerns about illnesses caused by Salmonella Heidelberg that were associated with the use and the consumption of ground turkey …Read More »

Beef Packers, Inc., Cargill, Ground Beef 2009 2 sick – In December, Beef Packers, Inc., owned by Cargill, recalled more than 20,000 pounds of ground beef contaminated with a drug-resistant strain of Salmonella Newport. The company issued an earlier recall in August 2009 due to contamination of ground beef …Read More »

Beef Packers, Inc., Cargill, Ground Beef 2009 68 sick – A Beef Packers, Inc., plant in California owned by Cargill distributed approximately 830,000 pounds of ground beef that was likely contaminated with Salmonella Newport. The beef was shipped to distribution centers …Read More »

Emmpak/Cargill Ground Beef 2002 47 sick – In early 2002, isolates of Salmonella Newport in New York state were found to be resistant to more than nine antibiotics and had a decreased susceptibility to the antibiotic ceftriaxone. Since 1996, an increasing number of Salmonella NewportRead More »

It cannot be the numbers of those sickened. Frankly, Foster Farms in two outbreaks sickened more than Cargill did in six.

© Food Safety News
  • Oginikwe

    The industry claims that their methodology is sound, saves money, and enables them to feed millions of people. Yet, in these six recalls, there are way over 1,000,000 pounds of meat being recalled. That seems to be a strange way of “saving” money, and, worst, all those animals’ deaths were for nothing–the ones who did eat it, got sick. No one got fed on these deals.

  • Rare Breeds

    MD – “All natural” is NOT the same as Certified Organic! “All natural” means nothing but money for these factory farms.

  • Kentucky

    When I worked at a Perdue plant a few years ago, salmonella (not heidelberg) increased to the allowed limit over a months time, so we quickly put in more processing interventions, corrected the grower issue and got the numbers to zero. We sickened nobody. We had metuiculous documentation and had corporate input. After over a month with no positive salmonella samples, USDA withdrew inspection from the plant for three days for ‘salmonella problems’. We appealed and USDA rescinded the citation six months later, but that was not reported prominently in the newspaper. It amazes me that Foster can get away with this.

  • Observer

    Perhaps there was no recall in the second Foster Farms outbreak because it couldn’t be determined that the FF chicken was THE cause of the illnesses. In other words, maybe there was no way to directly link the implicated product to the illnesses, as was the case with the Tyson’s recall. This, of course, doesn’t explain when there was no FF recall in July.

  • Fowl Mouth

    Salmonella is a natural bacteria in a Chickens stomach. Whether or not the chicken is organic or All Natural has no bearing on the bacteria and how it spreads. If you leave the chicken out for a certain amount of time after thawing it, or just in general leaving it on a counter, the Salmonella will spread. It really comes down to how the meat is prepared. As a manufacturer, it is unfair to blame Tyson, Foster and Cargill for people getting sick. Manufacturers have to keep strict policies and procedures, and be audited by numerous Food Safety administrations, associations and government. Most likely it is the fault of the intermediary who handles the food and does not follow directions…….or even know them.

  • waynamenomorefeedom

    All of this is the beef industry to sell more beef chicken is killing beef industry in sells.And I bet the Jails all over USA get a lot beef STK from the tax payer s to up sell of beef .Think that the stock market make s billions in the private Corporation jail system.All of this is intwine sells beef,big drug pill manufacture cartels doctors pushing the pills killing elderly and children it’s sickening to me That FDA is in game to and all you can think of ext ext safety is not good for stock market greeding hold ERS.

  • Steven Roach

    I am not an expert on USDA policy but I think the difference between Foster Farms outbreak and Tyson’s is the final product (ground or intact). If you look at the list of recalls, it contains ground products or in the new Tyson’s case mechanically separated. The list does not include some partially cooked frozen products which have also been recalled. My understanding is that USDA is refusing to consider Salmonella on intact chicken an adulterant, so they do not seek a recall. For ground products, mechanically separated products, and frozen products (like chicken nuggets) USDA considers Salmonella a potential adulterant because USDA considers them to be to be harder to cook. E coli O157 in beef has a similar status but in that case USDA does not allow it in ground or mechanically separated beef even before it makes people sick. What USDA considers to be worthy of a recall is expanding, so hopefully we will one day get to a point where products that are making people sick can be recalled.

  • chefjoemccalister

    Ummm…Tyson now has the Heidelberg Salmonella, but wasn’t it just in Foster Farms chickens? Whose to say it wasn’t Tyson who contributed to the Heidelberg Salmonella illnesses, since they are nationwide, opposed to FF who is on the West Coast. Can’t figure out how people on the East Coast and Puerto Rico became ill from eating FF, when it’s not available in those areas. I live on the West Coast and have been eating FF chicken for over 50+ years and will continue, but I know how to handle and cook chicken properly.

  • Barbara Breckenridge

    Tyson recalled because they knew for sure,foster farms is only suspected and if you cook your own food correctly you have no worrys.people don’t care about those in prison ,who can’t cook there own food themselves.it is evident tyson doesn’t by the way they seem to be down playing the fact that only,institutions we’re. Poisoned.so that is ok,now.foster farms is involved and certfied by the humain society.yet tyson seems to be able to get a pass and say ,oh well they we’re only sub human.get real people have you ever looked at the differance in the packages in the store? Fosters looks so much more edible.and belive they want nothing but to be the best for another 75.years.I know I will stick by what I know is a company that has stood the test of time.and is doing everything possible to set small minds at ease.j.breckenridge stevinson,ca.

    • DD

      Sounds Like another Corporate Commercial, For a Known Violator…. Hey maybe we can call it Simple Truth” So how l;ong have you worked for foster farms?

    • DD

      funny how you equate a 1 star rating, as a 5 star rating. yes, 1 star eqauls the WORST

  • Barbara Breckenridge

    Better check your own cabinet before yo,u run your mouth