July 17, 2024

Largest Multi-State Food Poisoning Outbreaks of 2013: #4

One of two Salmonella outbreaks associated with Foster Farms chicken this year was the fourth-largest multi-state food poisoning outbreak of 2013. The 13-state outbreak, which began in June 2012 and lasted through April 2013, sickened 134 people,  33 of whom were hospitalized.

SalmonellaDuring interviews with public health investigators, about 71 percent of patients said they ate Foster Farms chicken , or to another brand likely produced by Foster Farms, prior to becoming ill. Records from grocery store shopper cards showed that nine patients purchased Foster Farms chicken before illness onset.

Lab tests on stool samples from case patients identified the outbreak strain as Salmonella Heidelberg. Tests conducted by the Washington State Public Health Laboratories found the matching outbreak strain in four intact samples of chicken that were collected from three of the case patients homes’ in Washington. Although those strains were traced back to two Foster Farms slaughter establishments, the company did not issues a recall, opting instead to advise consumers to take better care when preparing chicken at home.

Most of the cases were reported from four states in the Pacific Northwest: Washington (57), Oregon (40), Alaska (13), and California (11). The other cases were reported from the following states: Utah (3), Idaho (2), Montana (2), Alabama (1), Virginia (1), West Virginia (1), New York (1), Hawaii (1), and Massachusetts (1). Onset of illness dates ranged from June 4, 2012 to April 16, 2013.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA-FSIS) completed an investigation to determine the source of infections in this outbreak.  Foster Farms efforts to address the problem were not made companywide, as we will see later in the countdown of the largest multi-state food poisoning outbreaks of 2013. Check Food Poisoning Bulletin tomorrow for the third-largest outbreak of the year.


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