Foster Farms Chicken Linked to Salmonella Outbreak

On Thursday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced people in twelve states have been sickened by salmonella infections from raw poultry.  The agency reported the infections were probably caused by poultry from Foster Farms, one of the largest poultry producers in the country.

CDC officials report most of the illnesses have occurred in Washington and Oregon, with approximately one-third of those contracting the infection requiring hospitalization.  Health officials in both states have identified Foster Farms chicken as the probable source of infection as 80 percent of those inflicted reported eating chicken earlier in the week.

The infections of salmonella Heidelberg, according to the CDC, began occurring in June of last year, with a spike of cases appearing in late September.  As of yet, no recall of products has been announced. 

Salmonellosis is a type of food poisoning caused by the Salmonella bacterium.  In the United States, approximately 40,000 cases are reported each year, though milder cases are either not diagnosed or reported, so the actual number of infections might be quite higher.  The infection occurs more in summer than winter, and children are most likely to contract the infection.  Those that have impaired immune systems, as well as young children and older adults, are the most likely to have severe infections.

Salmonella is usually contracted by eating food contaminated with the bacteria.  Food can be contaminated during food processing or handling by the unwashed hands of an infected food handler.  A common cause is a food handler who does not wash his hands after using the bathroom. 

The foods most commonly infected with Salmonella are beef, poultry, milk and eggs.

The symptoms of salmonella include diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps, and these symptoms usually develop within 12 to 72 hours after infection, and usually last four to seven days.  Although most people do recover from the infection without treatment, there are those who suffer symptoms so severe that hospitalization is required. 

If you suspect you may have salmonella, a visit to your doctor is required for diagnosis.  Your doctor will ask you questions concerning your symptoms, foods you have recently consumed, and your work and home environment.  He will than take both a stool culture and blood sample to confirm the diagnosis.

Foster Farm officials issued a statement saying, “Since 2005, testing results for salmonella … have consistently been well below the limit set for raw poultry … our facilities have earned and maintained Category 1 classification – the highest performance category for salmonella safety and control – for the last seven years.”

Original articles can be found here and here.