July 4, 2014
Foster Farms Issues Recall On Salmonella-Contaminated Chicken
Brett Smith for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
Sixteen months after a salmonella outbreak that sickened hundreds of Americans began, Foster Farms is finally recalling some poultry products linked to three plants in Central California. This comes after public health inspectors connected the outbreak to all three facilities.
In a statement, Foster Farms said it was issuing the recall "in the fullest interest of food safety.”
"This recall is prompted by a single illness associated with specific fresh chicken product, but in the fullest interest of food safety, Foster Farms has broadened the recall to encompass all products packaged at that time. Foster Farms regrets any illness associated with its products," the statement said.
The single illness the statement referred to was suffered by a 10-year-old California child who was hospitalized. The company was not legally obligated to issue the recall earlier because salmonella is naturally occurring and not a pathogen in the same sense as an organism like E. coli.
The USDA was able to directly tie the child’s illness to a package of Foster Farms chicken breast, spurring the recall. The government agency said Foster Farms has agreed to recall chicken products produced on March 8, 10 and 11 of this year at its three identified facilities, according to Reuters.
The company had been denying that its products were playing a role in the outbreak, saying that proper cooking should sterilize the chicken of salmonella. Despite this stance, litigation against the company had been growing and some have been calling for the USDA to have greater authority in cases of salmonella.
"There have been instances where responsible companies have recalled their products, even where they were not linked to a particular illness. Those recalls were voluntary, out of a concern to get the product off the market and help prevent people from becoming sick," said William Marler, a food safety attorney who is representing a California man allegedly sickened by the salmonella outbreak. "This is the first time Foster Farms has done a recall of its chicken products over salmonella – ever."
According to Reuters, the California-based company produces about 10 percent of all chicken products eaten in the United States and handles 95 percent of all commercial California chickens. The outbreak began in March 2013 and has slowed in recent months, although cases are still being reported.
In March 2014, the USDA confirmed the effectiveness of a product used to control salmonella in poultry growing conditions. Called TeraGanix, the all-liquid product uses microorganisms for inoculation in poultry litter to naturally suppress pathogenic microbes.
“In broiler production, litter that is left on the floor contains fecal matter,” TeraGanix said in a statement. “Salmonella species grow in the fecal matter and can become concentrated in the litter that gets stuck on the birds' feet and in their feathers. Between flocks, many growers will windrow (mound up) the litter for 7 to 10 days to heat up the material, hoping to pasteurize the material. However, this is often not effective and also results in increased levels of ammonia gas in the houses.”