California based Foster Farms poultry processing plants are coming under congressional fire this week. The USDA said the chicken plant issued a “voluntary recall,” pulling back products with a confirmed contamination that has sickened nearly 60 individuals with salmonella strains across nearly 30 states.
But members of Congress say that's not enough.
Reports NBC News: “Two members of Congress are calling on federal agriculture officials to shut down all Foster Farms poultry plants until a salmonella outbreak that has sickened more than 600 people is resolved. The move announced Monday by Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., and Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y., comes after the California-based firm voluntarily recalled all chicken parts produced during several days in March.”
According to NBC, the recall includes chicken products sold in March with “use or freeze by” dates ranging from March 16, 2014 to March 29, 2014 and with plant codes P-6137, P-6137A, and P-7632.
MeatandPoultry.com said that “DeLauro is a former chairwoman of the Subcommittee that funds USDA and an outspoken advocate for stronger food-safety standards. Slaughter, the only microbiologist in Congress, wrote the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act (PAMTA), which would ban routine overuse of eight critical classes of antibiotics on healthy food animals.”
Despite the fact that suspected contaminations have been coming out of Foster Farms for close to a year, this is the first recall issued by the plant, which produces thousands of pounds of market-ready chicken parts each day.
“Burying news late at night on a holiday weekend may be a time-honored tradition by Washington spin doctors, but it is a shameful way to protect public health,” the representatives wrote. “We have been saying for months that tainted chicken does not belong on the grocery stores shelves or the dinner tables of American families. How many more people will fall ill, or even be hospitalized, before USDA does the right thing and cracks down on companies that threaten our families’ health and safety?”
FoodWorldNews.com reports that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “quietly updated the case count to reflect that at least 621 people in 29 states and Puerto Rico have been sickened by Salmonella Heidelberg tied to Foster Farms chicken since March 2013.”
Contaminated chicken pieces were distributed to Hawaii, Arizona, California, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Utah and Alaska. The recall includes chicken drumsticks, chicken tenders, thighs, and livers. California carried the most reported illnesses – 77 percent of the total sicknesses.
Says Food World News: “Although most of the products are sold with the Foster Farms label, some have labels including: Kroger, Savemart, Valbest, Safeway, FoodMaxx, and Sunland. None of the fresh chicken that is currently in grocery stores is at risk.”
“Epidemiologic, laboratory and traceback investigations conducted by local, state and federal officials indicate that consumption of Foster Farms brand chicken is the likely source of this outbreak of salmonella Heidelberg infections,” the CDC said back in April of this year.