The Oregon Health Authority said there were 43 cases last year in Oregon, and the Washington Health Department said there were at least 56 linked to a specific strain of the bacteria called Salmonella Heidelberg, the Associated Press reported. There were no deaths.
Foster Farms issued a statement concerning food safety concerns centered around the outbreak: “The safety and quality of our poultry products is Foster Farms' utmost priority. There is no recall in effect for any brand of chicken related to the Oregon Health Authority announcement as it is widely known that all raw chicken must be responsibly handled and properly prepared to ensure safety and quality. All raw chicken, like all raw meats, can contain bacteria that can be harmful to human health. For this reason, all raw chicken must be fully cooked to ensure safety and quality. Bacteria on food, including Salmonella, are fully eliminated and present no risk with proper storage, handling and preparation. Foster Farms does everything it can to ensure the safety of our poultry products within our facilities and our testing results demonstrate excellence. However, there is always room to provide more education and awareness about food safety practices. We want all consumers to have a safe and satisfying experience with chicken products.”
Health departments in both states reiterated the need for consumers to take care in handling and cooking chicken. Salmonella is common on all chicken, not just Foster Farms products, the agencies stated. Also, cross-contamination onto other foods is possible.