Salmonella lawyers at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm confirm that nearly 280 people have been reported sick due to salmonella poisoning in at least 18 states. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently announced that the outbreak is continuing, and has named three Foster Farms facilities as responsible.
Raw chicken from Foster Farms, located in California, is confirmed as the source of the salmonella outbreak. Specifically, people are being sickened by one strain of bacteria known as salmonella Heidelberg. Most of the 280 illnesses have been reported in California, though reports are also increasingly prevalent in Oregon and Washington.
Unfortunately, at this point in the investigation the USDA is unable to pinpoint a specific product and production period for contamination other than raw chicken from three Foster Farms facilities. The agency does confirm, however, that raw products from these facilities include numbers inside inspection boxes labeled: P6137, P6137A, and P7632.
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Eating or otherwise consuming food contaminated with Salmonella can be life-threatening, particularly in children, the elderly, and those with weakened immune systems such as AIDs and cancer patients. The illnesses’ most common symptoms are abdominal cramps, fever (within eight to 72 hours after consumption), diarrhea, chills and headache.
Surprisingly, Foster Farms has not yet issued a recall for any of its chicken products. In a recent press release the company did state that it was working alongside USDA and CDC inspectors to address the potential contamination. It is worth noting that the USDA inspection process has not been affected by the ongoing government shutdown. CDC disease investigators, however, who track multi-state food outbreaks, are not able to work, which could significantly affect the investigation and remedial process.
Both USDA and Foster Farms have issued alerts informing consumers of the best methods to cook chicken to avoid bacterial contamination. For example, it is important to cook chicken to an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit to kill any disease-causing bacterium. Food thermometers can be found at any grocery store or butcher, and even at many convenience stores.
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This is the second outbreak of Salmonella from Foster Farms within the past year or so. In July 2012, Health Departments in Washington and Oregon reported increased reports of Salmonella Heidelberg poisoning from Foster Farms chicken. That outbreak affected a total of 134 people from 13 different states, including 33 patients who were hospitalized.
Illness onset from that outbreak ranged from June 2012 to April 2013 – two of the affected patients were under one year of age and required hospitalization. Similar Salmonella contamination from Foster Farms chicken occurred in 2004.
It may be disturbing to know that Salmonella is not considered a bacterial “contaminant” from a fedreal regulatory perspective, meaning inspectors may detect Salmonella in meat and still allow it to be sent off to market. It is most commonly associated with poultry (chicken, duck, quail and turkey), though has also been linked to other foods, most recently cantaloupe. That cantaloupe outbreak killed several people and sickened hundreds of others. Another cantaloupe contamination killed 30 people in 11 different states. Those fruits, produced by a farm in Colorado, were tainted with Listeria.
In December 2012 the USDA announced that all facilities producing raw ground or pulverized poultry would have to reassess their Critical Control and Hazard Analysis plans after numerous reports of salmonella poisoning from turkey consumers. The efforts may have helped, though this and other poultry-related outbreaks this year prove there is much more work to be done.
Food-borne illness lawyers at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm will continue to report on all significant food recalls, reports of contamination, and potential illnesses. If you or a loved one was hospitalized or killed from food bacteria, such as Salmonella or Listeria, you have important legal rights. Our attorneys can help you determine if you are eligible to receive compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and loss of a loved one. We offer free, no-obligation consultations to those affected nationwide.