Despite the long-time good reputation of Foster Farms poultry products with the general public, like any other commercial food processor, there are bound to be problems from time to time. As of yesterday, October 7, 2013, this company is recalling several of its raw chicken products due to severe cases of salmonella poisoning. The particular bacterial strain, Salmonella Heidelberg, is known to be resistant to conventional antibiotic treatment. There have been numerous cases of food poisoning from the tainted meat involved. (See http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/home/!ut/p/a1/04_Sj9CPykssy0xPLMnMz0vMAfGjzOINAg3MDC2dDbwsfDxdDDz9AtyMgnyMDf3dDIAKIkEKcABHA0L6w_WjUJX4Wxq6AZWEBfp7OzsbWPgZwxTgtqIgN8Ig01FREQBCfym8/?1dmy&page=gov.usda.fsis.internet.topics&urile=wcm%3apath%3a%2FFSIS-Content%2Finternet%2Fmain%2Fnewsroom%2Fnews-releases-statements-and-transcripts%2Fnews-release-archives-by-year%2Farchive%2F2013%2Fpha-1007130 for additional information.)
The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has issued an alert to consumers concerning the chicken. The packages bear the following numbers on their packaging, linked to the USDA inspection mark in some cases:
At this time no certainty has been established as to the exact type of products, the dates of packaging, or other identifying details. The source of the contamination has not been determined, either. In most instances of salmonella, there has been a problem with sanitation in the packing plant or other steps of processing the food. Employees who do not follow hygiene requirements such as hand-washing (a legal requirement when working with food) or other incidents of poor sanitation in the plant are usually the cause of these outbreaks.
When handling poultry or other raw meats or fish at home, it is important to follow the same rules regarding personal hygiene as food handling staff must use. Washing your hands thoroughly with hot soapy water before and after ANY food handling is the most essential element. Other important factors include proper refrigeration in accordance with the type of meat, clean storage facilities (ie., within the refrigerator or freezer, including proper wrapping), sanitization of knives, cutting boards and other instruments used in working with food, and avoidance of cross-contamination. Finally, cooking chicken, turkey, or whatever food you plan to serve at the proper temperature is crucial to destroying any possible bacteria.
If you or anyone in your home shows symptoms of salmonella such as vomiting, diarrhea, fever, or nausea following ingestion of any food, it is vital to seek emergency treatment immediately. Salmonella can be fatal in some cases, especially for the very young, elderly and those with weakened immune systems. It’s too late to ward off salmonella or other food poisoning once you’ve broken or forgotten any of these rules. A far better goal is to prevent it from happening in the first place.
Got questions about the Foster Farms recall? Go to FSIS’ online service, AskKaren.gov, or call this number:
USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854)