July 7, 2014 — Foster Farms is recalling chicken contaminated with an antibiotic-resistant strain of Salmonella Heidelberg that has sickened at least 600 people with severe food poisoning.
The recall was issued for chicken produced on March 8, 10, and 11 at three facilities in California.
The “use by” or “freeze by” dates range from March 16 through March 31, 2014. The recall also includes frozen Sunland Chicken products with “best by” dates between March 7 and March 15, 2015.
The recalled products include fresh chicken products sold by Costco, Foodmaxx, Kroger, Safeway, and other stores in Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Nevada, Oklahoma, Oregon, Utah and Washington. Click here for a complete list of recalled products.
This is the first time the USDA has been able to pin an illness in the outbreak to a specific product. The chicken was purchased on March 16, consumed on April 29, and caused his illness on May 5. The USDA was notified on June 23 and took immediate steps to collect product samples.
The victim was a 10 year-old boy in California was hospitalized. About 40% of victims have been hospitalized, which is about double the normal rate for Salmonella, including 13 people who developed blood infections.
The outbreak has been ongoing since March 2013. Last year, Costco recalled Foster Farms rotisserie chicken from a store in Northern California. The USDA has been wrangling with Foster Farms for over a year now. In January, production was briefly suspended at three facilities in California after inspectors found evidence of cockroach infestations.
The USDA has been unable to force a recall. An interesting loophole in food safety laws prohibits contaminants Salmonella on ready-to-eat foods, but allows it on chicken because Salmonella can be killed by heating it to an internal temperature of 165º.
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