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Salmonella outbreak leads to chicken recall

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FRESNO, Calif. » The first product recall has been issued for a California chicken producer since it was linked to an outbreak of an antibiotic-resistant strain of salmonella that has been making people sick for more than a year.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture said Thursday night it has found evidence directly linking Foster Farms boneless-skinless chicken breast to a case of salmonella Heidelberg.

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

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 total amount of chicken involved was not immediately announced.

The salmonella Heidelberg outbreak has led to more than 500 illnesses in 27 states, but no deaths have been reported.

The investigation continues into salmonella Heidelberg infections likely related to chicken from Foster Farms, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

As of May 22, 574 individuals infected with seven outbreak strains of salmonella Heidelberg have been reported from 27 states and Puerto Rico since March 1, 2013.

About 37 percent of ill persons have been hospitalized. Most of the afflicted consumers have been reported from California.

"The outbreak strains of salmonella Heidelberg are resistant to several commonly prescribed antibiotics," the CDC said.

CDC and federal agricultural officials recommend that consumers follow food safety tips that include washing hands with warm soapy water for 20 seconds before and after handling raw meat, poultry or seafood and also washing utensils, cutting boards, dishes and countertops with hot soapy water after preparing each food item.

 

Star-Advertiser staff and Associated Press

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