Oct 11 Three poultry plants in California that
were the source of a Salmonella outbreak that has sickened
hundreds of people in 20 states will continue to operate despite
demands by lawmakers and consumer advocate groups that they be
Foster Farms' plants in Fresno and Livingston will remain
open after the poultry company implemented new "food safety
controls over the last two months," Ron Foster, president and
chief executive officer of the privately held California-based
company, said in a statement.
The U.S. Agriculture Department's Food Safety and Inspection
Service said it reviewed the company's safety plans on Thursday
and federal inspectors will remain at the plants.
A total of 317 people across the United States were infected
by the Salmonella Heidelberg outbreak, with 42 percent of those
needing hospitalization, the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention said on Friday.
There have been no deaths, the CDC said.
Salmonella, a common bacterial foodborne illness, can cause
diarrhea, nausea, fever and cramping, and can be fatal to
infants and the elderly.
The decision to keep the plants open was "a disgrace" by
USDA, U.S. Rep. Louise Slaughter, Democrat of New York, said in
a statement on Friday. She said USDA should have moved to shut
down the poultry plants.
"The USDA's toothless decisions endangers public health
today, and encourages bad actors in the food industry to
continue to break the law tomorrow," Slaughter said
The Center for Science in the Public Interest said the
company should recall chicken from store shelves, a move Foster
The company in the release said raw chicken, if properly
handled and cooked to 165 degrees Fahrenheit (74 degrees
Celsius), is safe to consume.
Foster Farms spokesman Michael Fineman declined to provide
Reuters with details of the new safety measures the company has
put into place.
The USDA is largely closed due to U.S. government budget
impasse that has led to the furloughing of hundreds of thousands
of workers but meat inspectors, deemed "essential" employees,
remain on the job.
(Additional reporting by P.J. Huffstutter in Chicago; Editing
by Bob Burgdorfer)