USDA: Foster Farms poultry plants linked to outbreak stay open

The Agriculture Department says three Calif. poultry processing facilities linked to a salmonella outbreak can stay open, for now.
October 10, 2013 7:14:39 PM PDT
The time is up for Foster farms. The government gave the company 72 hours to come up with a plan to clean up three Central Valley chicken processing plants where salmonella has been detected.

One of the contaminated plants is in Livingston and two others are in Fresno. The Agriculture Department says changes need to be made in order for the plants to remain open. The government is still reviewing whether those changes are underway.

Employees couldn't go on camera but said they're worried about a shutdown and concerned their jobs are on the line.

Government inspectors and investigators are watching their every move to make sure the food supply at Foster Farms is safe.

"We would like Foster Farms to issue a recall for these raw chicken products associated with outbreak plants. We would also like the US Department of Agriculture to request that Foster Farms make this recall," Consumer Reports Food Safety Center spokesperson Dr. Urvashi Rangan said.

The Food Safety and Inspection Service says there is no imminent threat and have not recalled any Foster Farms products.

However, investigators have asked the company to fix the problem.

"They do have the ability to better control their production process to reduce the amount of contamination on the product they're producing," Agriculture Department spokesperson Daniel L. Engeljohn said.

The Agriculture Department issued a public health alert this week after 278 people got sick. Five of those people were from Fresno.

Investigators linked all of those illnesses to salmonella strains and Foster Farms.

"This operation can operate in a more consistent and optimal way and so with that and in light of the illnesses that are associated we're expecting there will be substantive changes," Engeljohn said.

The president of Foster Farms issued a statement on the company's website: "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."

Health officials say that the food products are safe with proper handling and preparation.

Government officials are still discussing whether to halt the operations in Fresno.

The Agriculture Department said government inspectors will monitor the company's improvements and sample Foster Farms meat for the next three months.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report)


Load Comments