The 18-month salmonella Heidelberg outbreak, in which multiple antibiotic-strains of salmonella were linked to their product, comes as Foster Farms is cited 480 times for non-compliance with proper food safety standards during this period of time, this according to Reuters news. According to the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service’s (FSIS) records, both Livingston plants and the facility in Fresno were cited for multiple violations. These are the same Foster Farm’s facilitates that have been linked to an outbreak that began last March (2012) and was not deemed to have run its course until July of this year. Among the more frightening discoveries during these inspections, on top of being forced to temporarily close on plant due to cockroach infestation, these inspections uncovered instances where:
1. Some of the Raw chicken in the chilling tanks were coated with feces;
2. Storage of near-ready-to-ship giblets in tubs were stored alongside fecal filled intestines; and
3. Employees who wore gloves that were not cleaned.
These unsanitary conditions not only allow for the rapid spread of salmonella bacteria, but are seen by some food poisoning experts and advocates as contributing factors to the antibiotic-resistant qualities of these strains of bacteria. Antibiotics are used routinely in the production of chicken, and that, coupled with unsanitary conditions, may provide bacteria with the environment to develop resistance to common antibiotics.
But not only was this outbreak linked to antibiotic-resistant strains of salmonella, which are harder to medically treat and have contributed to 38% of identified victims being hospitalized in his outbreak, it was also an unusually long outbreak, lasting 18 months. The Foster Farm’s, for its part, claims to have recently spent $75,000,000 to fight the spread of salmonella, including the purchase of new equipment, and claims to have responded quickly to correct noted deficiencies. But despite these efforts, the outbreak continued unabated for well over a year. In spite of the geographic reach and the hundreds or thousands sickened, the company issued only limited recalls of specific products linked to a fraction of the episodes of salmonellosis in the public.
According to salmonella lawyer Ron Simon, this is inexcusable behavior. “Foster Farms should have issued a general recall of all its product at the first sign of human illness linked to its product, and remained closed until it was certain it was able to produce safe and disease-free chicken for the American consumer.” Salmonella lawyer Ron Simon represents a number of Foster Farms victims and working to protect their legal rights as victims of the Foster Farm’s Salmonella Heidelberg outbreak that has sickened, by some estimates, many thousands, with at least 634 laboratory confirmed cases in 29 states according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).