LIVINGSTON, Calif. –US Dept. of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Rep. Jim Costa (CA-16) toured Foster Farms’ Livingston, Calif., chicken processing facility on Monday and were briefed on the company’s food safety program, including innovative genetic research to further control Salmonella prevalence.
Vilsack, Costa and local political leaders met with Foster Farms CEO Ron Foster and company executives. In a press briefing held on Oct. 13, Vilsack said he appreciated the opportunity to visit Foster Farms and talk to the company about its $125 million food safety investment.
Since April 2014, Foster Farms has maintained a companywide Salmonella prevalence level of less than 5 percent, the result of a comprehensive food safety program that reduced Salmonella levels system-wide from the breeders to the farms where the birds are raised and to the plants where the chicken is processed and packaged. The program included improvements to equipment and processes, the implementation of a continuous testing program and food safety education.
“What I was most impressed with was the fact that they are now sharing information about lower Salmonella levels with not just their own internal communications but have seen fit to actually share that information with others including competitors which I think is a reflection of how we ought to be focusing on food safety,” Vilsack said. “We all have to be focused on food safety.”
Costa said he applauded Foster Farms for its investment in expertise and technology and for its commitment to producing safe and healthy poultry products.
Foster said it was an honor to have Vilsack visit the company and recognize its commitment to food safety.
“Our entire team works hard to ensure quality and safety every step of the way from the farm through the plant to the store,” Foster added.