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USDA: Salmonella Outbreak Sickens Hundreds

Oct 9, 2013

People in 18 states have been sickened from salmonella linked to chicken products made at three California plants owned by Foster Farms.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Services division reports that an estimated 278 illnesses, mostly in California, were caused by strains of Salmonella Heidelberg, according to Reuters. The chicken products were distributed mostly to retail outlets in California, Oregon, and Washington state. The illnesses were linked to Foster Farms brand chicken through investigations, including laboratory testing, conducted by local, state, and federal officials.

Foster Farms, based in Livingston, California, said it is working with authorities to reduce the incidence of Salmonella Heidelberg in raw chicken products. No recall is in effect, the company said. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is partnering with state health departments to monitor the outbreak while the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) continues its investigation, Reuters reports. Raw products from the facilities bear one of the following numbers inside a USDA mark of inspection or elsewhere on the package: P6137, P6137A or P7632.

Salmonella Heidelberg is a common strain of the Salmonella pathogen and it can result in foodborne illness if not destroyed by the heat of proper cooking. Diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever—the most common symptoms—usually appear within eight to 72 hours of exposure. Chills, headache, nausea and vomiting may also occur. The illness usually runs it course within seven days but sometimes becomes severe enough to require hospitalization. Salmonella infections are especially dangerous for children under five, older adults, and those with weakened immune systems, according to the CDC.

FSIS continues to work during the federal government shutdown, but with reduced staffing, Reuters reports. Meat, poultry and processed egg inspection activities have been maintained.

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