Over 500 Sickened in Foster Farms Chicken Salmonella Outbreak

April 10, 2014 — An outbreak of Salmonella linked to Foster Farms chicken has been inked to at least 524 cases of food poisoning in 25 states and Puerto Rico. Officials with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) warned that the outbreak involves antibiotic-resistant strains of Salmonella and has been ongoing for more than a year.

According to the CDC outbreak investigation, 37% of ill persons have been hospitalized, and no deaths have been reported. Most ill persons (76%) have been reported from California. Over 86% reported eating chicken at home in the week before getting sick.

The outbreak involves seven strains of Salmonella Heidelberg, and about 62% are resistant to at least one common antibiotic. These antibiotics are not usually used to treat bloodstream infections caused by Salmonella, but antibiotic resistance can be associated with an increased risk of hospitalization.

The outbreak began in March 2013. Officials at the CDC said it was over in January, but then detected more infections. Since March 3, 2014, a total of 43 new infections were reported in Arizona (2), California (34), Michigan (1), Oregon (3), Texas (2), and Washington (1).

Despite new illnesses, Foster Farms has not been asked to recall potentially contaminated chicken. There is no law requiring chicken to be free of Salmonella. Instead, consumers are told to handle raw poultry carefully, avoid cross-contamination, and cook the meat to at least 165ºF.

Last year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) briefly suspended operations at a Foster Farms chicken processing facility in California that was linked to the Salmonella outbreak. Investigators found an infestation of cockroaches.

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