As many as 300 victims across 18 states have been sickened since July in a nation-wide Salmonella Heidelberg outbreak linked to consumption of Foster Farms Chicken–this on the heels of an outbreak of salmonella linked to the same Foster Farms chicken only months ago that sickened well over 100 and also sent dozens to the hospital. As in that outbreak, health officials have identified at least 7 different strains of Salmonella Heidelberg linked to the Foster Farms chicken.
The California poultry producer responsible for the outbreak, Foster Farms, has plants in Oregon, Washington, California and Alabama said Barbara Reynolds, a spokeswoman for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The chicken was distributed to retail outlets mainly in California, Oregon and Washington, but illnesses have been reported in 18 states. Those include Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Michigan, North Carolina, Nevada, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wisconsin.
This outbreak has raised concern among health agencies and is considered to be a significant threat to public safety. So far, nearly half of all the victims (42%) have required hospitalization–in real numbers this represents 76 out of the 183 victims for whom the information is available. These infections are also significant in that the bacterial infections are resistant to most common antibiotics. In fact, the concern over this outbreak has forced the government to recall federal food safety workers from a furlough linked to the government shut-down in an effort to begin tracking this outbreak to help avert what could be a record number of salmonella cases.
Investigation Started In July: Only Recently Pinpoints Foster Farms
According to Dan Engeljohn, of the U.S Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service, the investigation was well underway in July but investigators were unable to definitively pinpoint the source of the salmonella contamination. But now, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the USDA are confident enough to issue a public health alert concerning Foster Farms raw chicken products. The agency’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) remains unable to identify specific products or even a specific production period for the potentially tainted chicken, an indicating of just how wide-spread the infection is.
Ironically, there was also a Salmonella Heidelberg linked to Foster Farms chicken in May of this year. According to the CDC’s Barbara Reynolds, it affected 134 people in 13 states and included 33 hospitalizations. That outbreak was believed to be over in July, but may yet be a linked to this outbreak. What is clear is that the systems wide problem was not cured in the aftermath of that last outbreak..
Foster Farms officials claim to be cooperating with the CDC and the FDA, but at the same time a Foster Farms spokesman seemed to distance the company from any liability, stating the infections were caused when customers ate chicken that was undercooked or improperly handled. Foster Farms seems to be indicating that the negligent party in this outbreak is the consumer or food preparer.
Raw Chicken “Known to be Dangerous”
So far, there has been no recall—and industry insiders are not in agreement as to whether a recall should be issued. Foster Farms officials, for their part, insist the chicken is safe to eat if the consumer properly cooks and handles it. Ana according to some industry insiders, salmonella is common in much of the raw chicken in circulation, which is why the producers always advise that the meat must be cooked to 169 degrees, internal temperature. In short, some in the industry seem to be indicating their position is that the only reason there are illnesses is because people are failing to prepare the chicken properly and failing to handle the raw meat correctly.
In addition, CDC officials have stopped short of advising the public not to eat the potentially salmonella tainted chicken, noting that it is safe if properly cooked and if proper hygiene is observed.
Salmonella Heidelberg is one of the more common strains of salmonella, but can be life-threatening in young and older victims and in victims with a weakened immune system, such as those fighting off cancer or suffering from HIV infection. Even healthy individuals will likely suffer diarrhea, abdominal cramps, fever, body and headaches. The average onset is between a few hour and several days.
The Salmonella lawyers at Ron Simon & Associates
If you or a loved one because ill after eating the Foster Farms chicken, you may have important legal rights, which may including filing a salmonella claim or a salmonella lawsuit. Call the salmonella lawyers at Ron Simon & Associates to protect your legal rights and to see if the salmonella lawyers at Ron Simon n& Associates can help you.