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A Year Later, Foster Farms Salmonella Outbreak Sickens Dozens More

At least 481 people in 25 states have been sickened in the national Salmonella outbreak tied to Foster Farms brand chicken, according to the latest outbreak update from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Since the last update on Jan. 16, 51 new cases have been reported from five states: Arizona (3), California (44), Hawaii (1), Tennessee (1), and Utah (2).

The first case of illness was reported on March 1, 2013, just over one year ago.

The illnesses are tied to chicken processed at three Foster Farms plants in California. Foster Farms did not issue a recall for any of the chicken from those plants, but allegedly implemented unspecified additional safety measures according to a request from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS). One plant did close down temporarily because of an alleged cockroach infestation.

Due to the time involved in tracing an illness back to a specific food product, Salmonella cases that have occurred as part of this outbreak since Jan. 29, 2014, might not yet be counted among the official CDC total.

According to CDC, the outbreak strains of Salmonella Heidelberg are resistant to several commonly prescribed antibiotics.

“Although these antibiotics are not typically used to treat Salmonella bloodstream infections or other severe Salmonella infections, antibiotic resistance can increase the risk of hospitalization in infected individuals,” CDC said.

Salmonella is considered to be relatively common on raw poultry, and it is not considered an adulterant. A recent Consumer Reports survey of retail chicken breasts found Salmonella on 11 percent of samples.

For more information on Salmonella and adulterants, Food Safety News has published a number of articles on the topic. Most recently: “Fight Over Salmonella and Adulterants Spills into the Chicken Coop”

Persons infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Heidelberg, by State as of February 28, 2014

Persons infected with the outbreak strains of Salmonella Typhimurium, by date of illness onset as of February 28, 2014

© Food Safety News
  • Carlo Silvestr

    And so it comes back to bite them one year later! Why didn’t Foster Farms do the ethical thing and order a recall in the beginning? Was it because it would have cost too much? I think their refusal to have a recall has had consequences that they certainly didn’t expect.

    • Carlos del Gato

      Because IF you cook chicken as recommended by the FDA there is NO PROBLEM. People getting sick due to their own inability to cook it properly. It exists in most chickens naturally. But when people DO NOT DO AS INSTRUCTED problems happen and they need to blame others. Idiots.