Thousands of pounds of Foster Farm brand chicken has been recalled by King Soopers stores in Colorado and Costco stores in California due to severe contamination with salmonella and over 300 cases of illnesses have been reported. The shut-down of the Federal government means any inspection from FDA officials will be delayed if it happens at all. The USDA reportedly has allowed the plants to keep packing chicken based on Foster Farms’ self-created quality control measures to address the tainted meat.Despite the government shut down, updates on the outbreak have been posted to the US Center For Disease Control's website.
The pace of chicken production, like that of all US meat production, has increased dramatically in the past 30 years, while the wages of meat production workers have been slashed to near subsistence levels in many meat plants. Government inspection rates for meat plants have also dipped dramatically. While USDA agents are generally onsite in packing plants, their power to alter plant policy has been continuously restricted.
Will the salmonella outbreak happening at one of the western region’s premier brands that boasts all-natural, hormone-free chicken, the idea of higher standards for meat processing and packaging is called into question. Is a business model of low-wage, ultra-high speed meat packing conducive to producing safe food? The question may not be answered if the packing plants are never inspected. It is less likely that the tainted chicken was an issue at the store level, based on the fact that outbreak was in many states.Costco is still investigating why a customer became very ill after eating rotisserie chicken made with the tainted Foster Farms brand chicken from a San Francisco, CA area Costco store.
"“It may have been a very, very uncommon cross-contamination issue. We’re still researching." Costco's VP of Food Safety Craig Wilson told the Los Angeles Times today.
Costco is known for paying workers significantly more than its big-box competitors such as Walmart, which was among other stores named as an outlet for the sale of the tainted chicken, along with other Kroger Co stores outside the King Soopers network.
Vegan groups have scrutinized the healthiness of merely consuming meat for years and a growing number of medical doctors are becoming critical of the standard American meat-based diet. Animal rights vegans have criticized how chickens are treated at the plants, being confined to cages, having beaks clipped, and being fed so extensively that they outgrow the ability of their bones to even support their bodies.
Excessive and excessively-fast growth of the birds due to elevated feeding levels makes birds cells mutate since they multiply many more times than their DNA code specifies, so the flesh itself can be a sort of mutagen even without hormone injections. Simpler issues can be even more of an immediate threat.
It is no longer prohibited for a chicken to sit in its own feces. Such is now considered a cosmetic issue, where it used to be considered a health concern. If the feces are not adequately washed off, bacteria levels are easily elevated.Other than inspectors who work inside the processing plants each day, few if any outsiders can come in and observe the process. It is becoming well-known that journalists are specifically barred from entry in meat plants, animal rights groups report.
Meat companies typically cite the Homeland Security Act as a means for restricting entry by outsiders. Animal groups have infiltrated the plants often by getting jobs there. The filthy work that requires all-day killing of animals, having contact with blood, urine, and feces all for a very low wage invites much turnover among workers, making applying for, and getting the job, fairly easy.
Without the scrutiny of the press, the public remains ignorant of the production processes in meat plants and won’t likely ever know the details of just what caused the contamination to be so prolific. Foster Farms was free to issue a press release of its own choice with little fear of counter argument. Salmonella is often found in chicken and in their eggs but rarely does it occur naturally in such frequent, recurring concentrations. It also occurs in the feces of the birds. Without a thorough investigation of the process by an impartial party, the exact reason for this latest outbreak may never be known to the public; the only way to be truly safe from such contamination may be to go vegan.