January 20, 2020

Foster Farms: We’ve Slashed Salmonella Rates

After being linked to two Salmonella outbreaks that have sickened more than 700 people, Foster Farms says it has slashed Salmonella rates on the chicken parts is produces to a fraction of the industry standard. The company made the announcement at its 75th anniversary celebration this week which was attended by U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein D-Calif, U.S. Representatives Jim Costa D-Calif and David Valadao R-Calif, and California Department of Food and Agriculture Secretary Karen Ross.

SalmonellaThe company says it has invested $75 million to reduce Salmonella rates on its products. Data on chicken parts from the most recent 10-week period, which the company says it shared with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), show a Salmonella rate of 2 percent, far below the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s industry benchmark number of 25 percent.

“We’ve achieved these results by taking a multi-hurdle approach that attacks Salmonella wherever it can present itself – at the breeder level, on the farm and in the plant,” said Dr. Robert O’Connor, senior vice president technical services at Foster Farms. “We are actively sharing what we have learned with government officials, the industry and retailers in the interest of helping to create a safer food supply across the nation.”

In a May statement issued in response to the CDC’s update on the Salmonella outbreak, the company said it was making steady progress in reducing Salmonella and that tests showed a rate of less than 10 percent. The outbreak, which began in March 2013, has sickened at least 574 people in 27 states. And since the multiplier for Salmonella is 38, since most illnesses are not reported to public health officials, there could be thousands sickened in just this one outbreak.

Chris Braden, a CDC official, told the Los Angeles Times that this week’s news made him hopeful that the breakout was nearing an end. “I’m impressed with many of the things they’ve done,” he told the paper. “But we’re still seeing a higher number of illnesses. So the investigation continues until we know for sure whether they are coming from Foster Farms or another source. We are going to be very vigilant.”

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