October 21, 2018

Food & Water Watch on Foster Farms Salmonella Outbreak

Food & Water Watch has released a statement about the USDA’s failure to prevent the Foster Farms Salmonella outbreak.  Almost 300 people in 17 states have been sickened so far. They say that this outbreak goes beyond the government shutdown crisis. And this outbreak is especially troubling because the hospitalization rate for those sickened is twice the normal rate, and some of the Salmonella Heidelberg strains are antibiotic resistant.

Salmonella Outbreak CaliforniaThe agency is concerned because first, it took the CDC seven months to discover that poultry from three Foster Farms facilities were causing this outbreak. And that investigation was interrupted by the government shutdown when most foodborne illness analysts were furloughed. In addition, no recalls have been issued, even though it is almost certain that contaminated product is still in consumer’s homes. FSIS claims it doesn’t know the specific products that caused the outbreak.

Food & Water Watch states that there is a bigger issue here. Since no strain of Salmonella is considered an illegal adulterant in poultry, processors have no obligation to prevent contamination until someone gets sick. And despite attempts by Foster Farms to blame consumers for illnesses caused by a tainted product, the fact remains that there’s something wrong at that company. USDA finally threatened Foster Farms with a shutdown unless drastic changes are made at their facilities. But the company can continue to sell its product until that time.

This is the second Salmonella outbreak caused by Foster Farms products this year. In the first outbreak, there were no warnings, no alerts, no recalls. Just a government announcement of an outbreak after the fact.

Food & Water watch ends their statement with these words: “These latest Salmonella outbreaks show that we need more government oversight, not less. Which is why we’ve been sounding the alarms about USDA’s rigged Salmonella testing and its proposal to deregulate poultry inspection by drastically reducing the number of USDA inspectors assigned to poultry plants and turning those inspection responsibilities over to companies so that they can police themselves.”

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