June 18, 2024

Foster Farms: Outbreak Spurred Us to Become Industry Leader in Salmonella Control

Foster Farms says being linked to a 17-month Salmonella outbreak that sickened 634 people in 29 states spurred it to adopt reforms that has made it an industry leader in control of the bacteria.  Of the seven strains of Salmonella Heidelberg associated with the outbreak, which began in March 2013 and ended yesterday, four were antibiotic resistant resulting in outbreak hospitalization rates that were double the average and rates of severe blood infections that were triple the average.

SalmonellaIn a statement on its website, published in response to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) announcement of the outbreak’s end, Foster Farms said the agency has affirmed the company’s progress in reducing Salmonella on raw poultry parts from 25 percent to less than five percent.

When the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA FSIS) threatened to close three Foster Farms plants in October 2013 because of Salmonella illnesses linked to chicken produced there, the company began what would become a $75 million Salmonella mitigation process.

The company says its dramatically reduced rates of Salmonella incidence are evidence that its plan was a success and that it has valuable information to share with the industry. The proof, of course, will be when spikes in Salmonella Heidelberg infections from chicken are no longer associated with the company.

In this outbreak, 634 cases were reported from the following states: Alabama (1), Alaska (1), Arkansas (1), Arizona (25), California (490), Colorado (9), Connecticut (1), Delaware (1), Florida (4), Georgia (1), Hawaii (1), Idaho (5), Illinois (4), Kentucky (1), Louisiana (1), Michigan (4), Missouri (5), Montana (1), Nevada (11), New Mexico (2), North Carolina (1), Oregon (17), Puerto Rico (1), Tennessee (1), Texas (13), Utah (6), Virginia (4), Washington (20), West Virginia (1), and Wisconsin (1). The patients ranged in age from less than 1 year old to 93 years old. The median age was 18. Cases were split equally along gender lines.



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