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Hawaii makes list for chicken recalled over bug

By Andrew Dalton

Associated Press

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 07:16 p.m. HST, Jul 03, 2014


LOS ANGELES » A California chicken producer has issued its first recall since being linked to an outbreak of an antibiotic-resistant strain of salmonella that has been making people sick for more than a year, company and federal food officials said Thursday night.

The U.S. Department of Food and Agriculture said it has found evidence directly linking Foster Farms boneless-skinless chicken breast to a case of Salmonella Heidelberg, an antibiotic-resistant strain of the disease that has sickened more than 500 people in the past 16 months and led to pressure from food safety advocates for federal action against the company.

As a result, Foster Farms issued a recall for 170 different chicken products that came from its Fresno facilities in March.

The USDA said its investigators first learned of the salmonella case on June 23, and the recall was issued as soon as the direct link was confirmed. The location of the case and identity of the person were not released.

Foster Farms says the products have "use or freeze by" dates from March 21 to March 29 and have been distributed to California, Hawaii, Washington, Arizona, Nevada, Idaho, Utah, Oregon and Alaska.

The long list of products in the recall include drumsticks, thighs, chicken tenders and livers. Most are sold with the Foster Farms label but some have the labels FoodMaxx, Kroger, Safeway, Savemart, Valbest and Sunland. No fresh products currently in grocery stores are involved.

The USDA said it was working with the company to determine the total amount of chicken affected by the recall.

The company emphasized that the recall was based on a single case and a single product but the broad recall is being issued in an abundance of caution.

"Our first concern is always the health and safety of the people who enjoy our products, and we stand committed to doing our part to enhance the safety of our nation's food supply," Foster Farms said in a statement.

The federal Centers for Disease Control says 574 people from 27 states and Puerto Rico have been sickened since the outbreak began in 2013, leading to increasing pressure from food safety advocates for a recall or even an outright shutdown of Foster Farms facilities.

Bill Marler, a Seattle attorney who specializes in class-action food-safety lawsuits, commended both Foster Farms and the USDA for "doing the right thing for food safety."

"Recalling product is both embarrassing and hard, but is the right thing to do for your customers," Marler said.

The company was linked to previous salmonella illnesses in 2004 and in 2012.

Recalls of poultry contaminated with salmonella are tricky because the law allows raw chicken to have a certain amount of salmonella — a rule that consumer advocates have long lobbied to change. Because salmonella is so prevalent in poultry and is killed if consumers cook it properly, the government has not declared it to be an "adulterant," or illegal, in meat, as is E. coli.

In a letter from USDA to Foster Farms last October, the department said inspectors had documented "fecal material on carcasses" along with "poor sanitary dressing practices, insanitary food contact surfaces, insanitary nonfood contact surfaces and direct product contamination."

Foster Farms said in May that it had put new measures in place, including tighter screening of birds, improved safety on the farms where the birds are raised and better sanitation in its plants.







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tigerwarrior wrote:
The recall involves chicken with a "use or freeze date from March 21 to March 29." I guess this means that the next time I purchase Foster Farms chicken--I should leave it in my freezer for at least 3 months--a 3-month quarantine period--before thawing it out and consuming it--just in case they decide to do a recall 3 months later.
on July 3,2014 | 07:17PM
tigerwarrior wrote:
Noticed that the article was recently updated by stating that USDA investigators issued the recall soon after learning of the salmonella case on June 23rd. So I guess I'll have to update my comment as well. Correction: "....I should leave it in my freezer for at least [2] months..."
on July 3,2014 | 07:50PM
mitt_grund wrote:
So, where do the professional huli-huli BBQ chicken guys get their chickies from?
on July 3,2014 | 08:02PM
palani wrote:
Based on how tough those birds are, I'd guess roadkill.
on July 4,2014 | 04:57AM
RichardCory wrote:
Salmonella is not a "bug." Just put "salmonella" in the title. What are you even thinking?
on July 4,2014 | 11:17AM
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