Foster Farms postpones news conference to update Salmonella outbreak

by Bryan Salvage
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LIVINGSTON, Calif. – On the morning of Oct. 14, Foster Farms planned to conduct an online news conference to update the media on its efforts to deal with a Salmonella outbreak that has sickened an estimated 317 people since March, the US Department of Agriculture relayed in a Modesto Bee report. But because the company is still collecting data it planned to discuss, the conference was postponed, a company spokesman said.

However, Foster Farms did provide photos of how it sanitizes its plants. Sanitizing each plant on a daily basis is standard operating procedure 365 days a year, the company said in a statement. Each sanitation process takes four to six hours. Its plants cannot resume operation until USDA verifies them as sanitary on a daily basis, the statement continued.

Rinses featuring food-grade, food-safety additives play a major role in keeping microbes under control, the National Chicken Council (NCC) said in an advisory about the Foster Farms situation. It also iterated frequent testing is done by industry and government employees.

All raw livestock products and crops could have microbes that can sicken people if the food is not handled and cooked properly, NCC continued. NCC added raw chicken is not sterile and that all chicken is safe when properly cooked to an internal temperature of 165°F. One FSIS letter indicated one Foster Farms plant had Salmonella in 25 percent of the tested products, which is much greater than the agency allows. The contamination problem was found in raw, whole chickens, chicken parts, tenderloins and strips, but not in its cooked chicken products.

FSIS reports chicken from the plants was infecting people, primarily in California, with Salmonella from March to at least September. Although no deaths have been reported, the hospitalization rate was relatively high for a Salmonella outbreak, according to officials.
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