Foster Farms outbreak appears over: CDC

by Meat&Poultry Staff
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ATLANTA – The Salmonella Heidelberg outbreak linked to Foster Farms chicken products appears to be over after 16 months and 634 reported illnesses, the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported.

Cases were reported from 29 states and Puerto Rico from March 1, 2013 to July 11, 2014. Seventy-seven percent of the infected individuals were in California. Among 528 individuals with available information, 200 (38 percent) reported being hospitalized, while 15 percent developed blood infections as a result of their illness, according to CDC. No deaths have been reported.

"The current outbreak appears to be over as the number of reported infections has returned to the expected number for this time of year," CDC said in a statement. "Since some of the outbreak strains are reported to PulseNet even in the absence of an outbreak, several ill persons infected with these strains are still expected to be reported to CDC monthly."

Since the last update on July 4, 13 additional cases were reported from California and Illinois. On July 3, Foster Farms initiated a voluntary recall of products made in California.

Foster Farms claims it now leads the industry in reducing incidence levels of Salmonella. The company implemented a multi-hurdle program designed to reduce Salmonella at each stage of the production process — from ranches where the birds are raised, to the plants where they are processed. Foster Farms also is leading a US poultry industry working group dedicated to further reducing Salmonella during the second stage of processing, after whole birds are divided into parts.
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