On February 14th, CDC released a report announcing its collaboration with various state and locoal public health officials and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA-FSIS) to investigate a multistate outbreak of Salmonella Heidelberg infections.
Since last June, 124 people in 12 states have been infected with the illness. Most of the cases have been reported from two states, Washington (56) and Oregon (38). At this time, CDC is not releasing the names of the other states until it is determined how these illnesses are linked to this outbreak.
Public health officials in Washington identified Foster Farms brand chicken produced at plants in Washington and California.
Foster Farms issued a statement to customers in the Pacific Northwest:
"The safety and quality of our poultry products is Foster Farms' utmost priority. There is no recall in effect for any brand of chicken related to the Oregon Health Authority announcement as it is widely known that all raw chicken must be responsibly handled and properly prepared to ensure safety and quality. All raw chicken, like all raw meats, can contain bacteria that can be harmful to human health. For this reason, all raw chicken must be fully cooked to ensure safety and quality. Bacteria on food, including Salmonella, are fully eliminated and present no risk with proper storage, handling and preparation.
"Foster Farms does everything it can to ensure the safety of our poultry products within our facilities and our testing results demonstrate excellence. However, there is always room to provide more education and awareness about food safety practices. We want all consumers to have a safe and satisfying experience with chicken products."
"As an industry leader, Foster Farms constantly reviews and implements new technology and practices deemed effective as part of its commitment to improving the microbial safety of poultry products."
Foster Farms stated that since 2005 test results for Salmonella have consistently been well below limits set for raw poultry. The company reminded consumers to cook poultry thoroughly and to be mindful of cross-contamination with other foods or food preparation surfaces when handling raw poultry products.