Outbreak of Infections Linked to Foster Farms Brand Chicken - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe News Weather, Video -

Outbreak of Infections Linked to Foster Farms Brand Chicken

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From the USDA:

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has issued a public health alert due to concerns that illness caused by strains of a bacteria known as salmonella are associated with raw chicken products produced by Foster Farms at three facilities in California. The products were mainly distributed to retail outlets in California, Oregon, and Washington State. Raw products in question bear one of the establishment numbers inside a USDA mark of inspection or elsewhere on the package:
• P6137
• P6137A
• P7632
As of October 7th, a total of 278 persons infected with seven outbreak strains of Salmonella Heidelberg have been reported from 17 states. 42% of ill persons have been hospitalized, which is about twice the expected number with salmonella infections.  The outbreak strains are resistant to several commonly prescribed antibiotics. This antibiotic resistance may be associated with an increased risk of hospitalization or possible treatment failure in infected individuals. No deaths have been reported thus far. 77% of ill persons have been reported from California, as shown on the following page.

Although the products were mainly distributed to retail outlets in California, Oregon and Washington, Nevada has eight reported cases of illness, according to the USDA. "This issue has had a limited impact on our state compared to others because product distribution was minimal," said Dr. Michael Greenlee, state veterinarian for the Nevada Department of Agriculture. "However, the public should be reminded that the most effective way to prevent illness from all chicken products is to handle them properly and to follow package directions when cooking to ensure the poultry reaches an internal temperature of 165°F."

The outbreak is continuing, and Foster Farms is collaborating with federal and state scientists in the investigation. USDA personnel have continued to work during the federal government shutdown, and 7-8 CDC employees have been called back in to help monitor the situation. Additional actions may be taken based on any new evidence that is discovered.

If you think you may have become ill:
Most persons infected with Salmonella bacteria develop diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps 12 to 72 hours after infection. The illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days, and most persons recover without treatment. However, in some persons, the diarrhea may be so severe that the patient needs to be hospitalized. Salmonella infection may spread from the intestines to the bloodstream and then to other body sites and can cause death unless the person is treated promptly with antibiotics. Children younger than 5 years, older adults, and people with weakened immune systems are more likely to have a severe illness from Salmonella infection.

Contact your healthcare provider if you think you may have become ill from eating contaminated food.

Advice to consumers:

While it is not unusual for raw poultry from any producer to have Salmonella bacteria, it is uncommon to have multidrug-resistant Salmonella bacteria. Salmonella is known to contaminate poultry flocks in the USA. It is naturally occurring in poultry and can be fully eradicated if raw product is properly handled and fully cooked. Several European countries have succeeded in eradicating it in their flocks through stringent controls, but those controls are considered too costly to implement in the USA.

CDC and USDA-FSIS recommend consumers and retailers follow these food safety tips to prevent Salmonella infection from raw poultry produced by Foster Farms or any other brand:

Wash hands with warm soapy water for 20 seconds before and after handling raw meat, poultry or seafood.
Wash utensils, cutting boards, dishes, and countertops with hot soapy water after preparing each food item and before you go on to prepare the next item.
Food contact surfaces may be sanitized with a freshly made solution of 1 tablespoon of unscented, liquid chlorine bleach in 1 gallon of water.

Separate raw meat, poultry, and seafood from other foods in your grocery shopping cart and in your refrigerator.
If possible, use one cutting board for fresh produce and a separate one for raw meat, poultry, and seafood.
Never place cooked food on a plate that previously held raw meat, poultry, or seafood.

Cook poultry to a safe minimum internal temperature of 165°F as measured with a food thermometer.
Retailers should hold cooked poultry to a safe minimum internal temperature of 165°F or higher as measured with a food thermometer.

Chill food promptly and properly. Refrigerate or freeze perishables, prepared foods, and leftovers within 2 hours (or 1 hour if temperatures are above 90°F).

Note: While cooking instructions may give a specific number of minutes of cooking for each side of the product in order to attain 165 degrees F internal temperature, consumers should be aware that actual time may vary depending on the cooking method (broiling, frying, or grilling), the altitude, and the temperature of the product (chilled versus frozen). It is important that the final temperature of 165 degrees F be reached for safety. Please do not rely on the cooking time for each side of the product, but use a food thermometer, which is the only way to know that food has reached a high enough temperature to destroy foodborne bacteria.

Consumers with food safety questions can "Ask Karen," the FSIS virtual representative available 24 hours a day at AskKaren.gov. The toll-free USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) is available in English and Spanish and can be reached from l0 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Eastern Time) Monday through Friday. Recorded food safety messages are available 24 hours a day.

It is likely that more specific information on this fairly large outbreak will be delayed due to the current political stalemate in Washington, which has affected, and will continue to affect, surveillance of outbreaks of disease.

From USDA:

Ron Foster, President and CEO, provided the following information from the company:

On behalf of the Foster family, our Foster Farms poultry company, and our more than 12,000
employees, I want to reassure you that we are taking every possible step to ensure the current and future safety of our chicken products. Food safety is, and has always been, at the heart of our business. I am deeply sorry for any illness associated with Foster Farms chicken and for any concern or confusion caused by this week's activity.

We have a 75-year history for excellence because of our commitment to continuous
advancement in food safety. We are putting every resource we have toward the continued safety of our fresh chicken.

Consumers should know that as recently as Oct. 8, USDA-FSIS publicly assured the safety of our chicken: "Foster Farms chicken is safe to eat but, as with all raw chicken, consumers must use proper preparation, handling and cooking practices." There is no recall in effect and FSIS
continues to inspect our poultry on a daily basis, certifying it as Grade A wholesome.
On Monday, as part of a public health alert reminding consumers about proper handling and
cooking procedures, the USDA issued Notifications of Intended Enforcement (NOIE) for our
plants in Livingston and Fresno. This is an official request by the USDA to demonstrate improved operations, or in this case for Foster Farms, to identify new measures toward Salmonella control in the company's Hazard Analysis Critical Control Plan (HACCP) and in its immediate implementation for mutual satisfaction.

Foster Farms is dedicated to resolving any concerns by the USDA. We are fully cooperating with
FSIS during this process and are responding with new and already implemented practices in the affected plants. Some of these interventions have been in place for nearly two months and are proving to be successful. In addition, we have brought in national food safety experts to assess our processes.

Earlier this year, we implemented similar new technology and interventions which were found to be highly effective at reducing Salmonella at our Pacific Northwest facility. The FSIS has been
fully satisfied with the results.

Despite the challenges of working with the federal government during the shutdown, we are a
responsible business working that much harder in full collaboration with the USDA on a

We have worked hard to earn your trust for 75 years, and I pledge that you can continue to safely enjoy the very best chicken from my family to yours.

The following information should be helpful to know:
- The recent Consumer Reports coverage regarding Salmonella on raw poultry involved product purchased and tested in July 2013, prior to our new processes and controls being implemented at our California facilities. These same processes have been found to be highly effective in the Pacific Northwest and have met the full satisfaction of the FSIS. It should be noted that we were not informed about any investigation by either agency prior to Aug. 9. As soon as we were informed, we acted quickly to bring in national food safety experts to assess our processes and have reinforced them with new technologies proven to be effective.

- There is no recall and the plant codes on Foster Farms packages do not have an impact on product safety. The plant codes, P-6137, P-6137A and P-7632, only indicate where the product is produced. These plant numbers are not associated with any product recall or specific products. Further, Foster Farms has already implemented additional controls within these plants to fully ensure safety.

- It should be noted that while no illness is ever acceptable, the time period for this issue was over the course of six months from March to mid-September. During that time, more than 25 million consumers safely consumed Foster Farms chicken.

- Raw poultry is not a ready-to-eat product. All raw poultry is subject to naturally occurring
bacteria. Whether the raw product is our brand or another, whether there is an alert or not, all raw chicken must be prepared following safe handling procedures, avoiding crosscontamination, and must be fully cooked to 165 degrees to ensure safety. According to the CDC, "It is not unusual for raw poultry from any producer to have Salmonella bacteria. CDC and USDA-FSIS recommend consumers follow food safety tips to prevent Salmonella infection from raw poultry produced by Foster Farms or any other brand."

Consumers who have any questions should call us at 800-338-8051 and visit our FAQ online:

From Foster Farms

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