The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced May 27 that it has recently received reports of 50 new Salmonella Heidelberg infections likely related to Foster Farms chicken.
The agency said it is continuing its investigation of this outbreak, in which 574 persons infected with Salmonella Heidelberg have been reported from 27 states and Puerto Rico since March 1, 2013. The CDC has also posted a timeline of events related to the 14-month-long outbreak.
In response to the CDC announcement, Foster Farms issued a statement of its own on Tuesday (as follows), titled "Foster Farms Continues to Reduce Salmonella Levels":
Foster Farms is committed to leadership in food safety and producing the safest chicken on the West Coast. Since October 2013, Foster Farms has developed a multiple-hurdle approach to reduce or eliminate Salmonella at each stage of production – from screening breeder flocks before entering the Foster Farms system, to enhancing procedures on the farms where the birds are raised, to adding sanitation interventions in the plants where the chicken is processed as a whole bird and when it is cut into parts. As a result, the company continues to make steady progress that has effectively reduced Salmonella at the parts level to less than 10% – well below the 2011/2012 USDA-measured industry benchmark of 25 percent. With each set of sampling, Foster Farms has demonstrated a significant improvement in Salmonella control.
While a recent CDC update does include additional case patients, it is important to note that Salmonella incidence increases during the warmer months each year. For this reason, the poultry industry and food safety officials continue to remind consumers to follow proper food safety and handling guidelines.