Ron Foster announced that he will step down as president and chief executive officer of Foster Farms, but will remain an owner and board member of the company.

Although the business grew 70 percent over the 11 years while Foster was at the helm, a Salmonella outbreak tied to raw chicken has plagued him for the past year and a half. Federal authorities said the outbreak sickened over 600 people, but they noted that the company carried out extensive measures to reduce future risk. The company was lauded for these efforts by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), and in July, the city council of Livingston, CA, where Foster Farms is headquartered, presented Foster with a key to the city.

Recent U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service data report that less than 5 percent of Foster Farms chicken are contaminated with Salmonella, compared to an industry average of approximately 20 percent. Despite these results, the company has continued to battle problems with Salmonella.

“I have greatly enjoyed the past 11 years as your CEO,” Foster said in a letter to employees. “During this period, we have witnessed some of the most challenging and some of the most rewarding times in our company’s history. I am confident that Foster Farms is positioned to do great things.”

Foster will remain as president and CEO until a replacement can be found.