LIVINGSTON, Calif. – USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service FSIS announced on Thursday that Foster Farms’ three California poultry processing facilities in Livingston and Fresno will remain open despite their link to the recent salmonella outbreak across the U.S.
Foster Farms said in a statement that the company had reached an agreement with FSIS after the company implemented several new food safety controls over the last two months plus a commitment by Foster Farms to install added processes during an enhanced inspection period over the next 90 days. USDA-FSIS inspectors will continue to inspect and approve the safety of Foster Farms chicken daily.
“We started this process more than two months ago and this officially validates our progress, but we are not stopping here,” said Ron Foster, president and CEO of Foster Farms. “We are putting every resource and all of our energy toward food safety with the confidence that Foster Farms plants will be the most stringent in the industry.”
The U.S. Center for Disease control reported that, as of October 7, 2013, a total of 278 persons infected with seven outbreak strains of Salmonella Heidelberg have been reported from 17 states, including Florida.
The Florida Department of Health announced on Thursday that it was notified that three additional cases of salmonellosis in Florida residents are linked to Foster Farms chicken by DNA fingerprinting, bringing the total to four cases in Florida. Three cases reside in Miami-Dade County and the fourth case was reported in Brevard County.
“Individuals who have eaten the suspect chicken and experience symptoms like diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps should seek medical attention, ” said Dr. Anna Marie Likos, Division of Disease Control and Health Protection Director and State Epidemiologist. “The Department will continue to monitor the situation and inform the public as new information becomes available.”
DOH advises consumers who believe they have been sickened by eating contaminated chicken should contact their local health department and provide any available information about the chicken. Consumers who have purchased any samples from the problematic plant numbers P6137, P6137A, and P7632 should dispose of the chicken in order to protect themselves and their families.
According to the DOH, Salmonellosis is an infection with Salmonella, a group of bacteria (germs) that can cause illness in humans. Most persons infected with Salmonella develop diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps 12 to 72 hours after infection. Salmonella infections usually resolve in 5-7 days and often do not require treatment other than oral fluids. Persons with severe diarrhea may require rehydration with intravenous fluids. Antibiotics are not usually necessary unless the infection spreads outside of the intestines.
The DOH has issued the following salmonellosis prevention tips:
• Cook poultry, meats (including ground meats) and eggs thoroughly. Using a meat thermometer is the only way to be sure you have cooked meat to a proper temperature.
• If you are served undercooked meat, poultry or eggs in a restaurant, don't hesitate to send it back to the kitchen for further cooking.
• Wash hands, kitchen work surfaces and utensils with soap and water immediately after they have been in contact with raw meat or poultry.
• Use one cutting board for raw animal proteins and another for other foods to avoid cross-contamination.
• Be particularly careful with foods prepared for infants, elderly, and immunocompromised.
• Do not work with raw poultry or meat and handle an infant (e.g., feed, change diaper) at the same time.