Samonella contaminated chicken from Foster Farms is the target of the October 7th USDA public health alert. The alert is in response to concerns that illness caused by strains of Salmonella Heidelberg are associated with raw chicken products produced by Foster Farms at three facilities in California.
It is estimated 278 salmonella related illnesses were recently reported in 18 states, predominantly in California but the outbreak is continuing because the chicken was mostly distributed to California, Oregon and Washington. The Centers for Disease Control are diligently working with local and state health departs to monitor the situation as the outbreak continues. This is good news for all concerned citizens right now in light of the government shutdown of many vital services.
The USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service wants to remind consumers the importance of proper food handling. Especially raw meat. Cooking meat completely is also a concern as it relates to transmitting potentially life threatening bacteria like Samonella.
Consuming food contaminated with Salmonella can cause salmonellosis, one of the most common bacterial foodborne illnesses. Salmonella infections can be life-threatening to those with weak immune systems, The most common symptoms of salmonellosis are diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever within eight to 72 hours. Additional symptoms may be chills, headache, nausea and vomiting that can last up to seven days.
Although the Foster Farms chicken from 3 facilities are under investigation for this contamination, no recall has yet to be issued because there is not a definite link from any specific product.
In a press release by Foster Farms, President Ron Foster says, "We are committed to ensuring the safety of our products, and our family-owned company has maintained an excellent food safety record during its near 80-year history. We deeply regret any foodborne illness that may be associated with any of our products. Food safety is at the very heart of our business. It is a continuous process of improvement. In addition to collaborating with FSIS and CDC, the company has retained national experts in epidemiology and food safety technology to assess current practices and identify opportunities for further improvement."
According to the USDA, the investigation is ongoing and FSIS is prepared to take additional actions or expand the investigation based on new evidence. Again, the best way to prevent samonella poisoning is with proper food handling and cooking. However, if you do feel you may have Samonella poisoning, seek medical attention immediately.