A public health alert was issued on October 7, 2013 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) after nearly 300 cases of salmonella were reported in 18 states across the U.S.
The products that are noted in the health alert are marked with the USDA inspection numbers P6137, P6137A and P7632, and are produced by Foster Farms. The products were mostly distributed in California, Oregon and Washington. Currently none of the products are being recalled.
Foster Farms released a statement saying: “We are committed to ensuring the safety of our products, and our family-owned company has maintained an excellent food safety record during its near 80-year history. We deeply regret any foodborne illness that may be associated with any of our products. Food safety is at the very heart of our business. It is a continuous process of improvement."
Dr. Robert O'Connor, Foster Farm's food safety chief and head veterinarian informed the public on the importance of food safety and also stated that the FSIS investigation would not be affected by the government being shut down.
“Salmonella is naturally occurring in poultry and can be fully eradicated if raw product is properly handled and fully cooked," he said. “All poultry producers strive to reduce bacterial presence, including Salmonella. We take food safety very seriously. When the incidence of illnesses linked to Salmonella increased, we wanted to know why and we have worked quickly to identify and implement additional controls. It is also important to reassure the public that the FSIS process has not been affected by the recent government shutdown.”
The Center for Disease Control discovered that the salmonella outbreak included several antibiotic-resistant strains of the disease.
What does this mean? Well, because the strains will not respond to the antibiotics, more people are being hospitalized with more severe reactions. Currently, 42 percent of people affected have been put into the hospital.
CDC spokeswoman, Barbara Reynolds says: "That's a high percentage. You would expect about 20% hospitalizations with salmonella Heidelberg."
So far, no deaths have been linked to this outbreak.
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