The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently announced that it investigation of the foodborne illness outbreak associated with Foster Farms chicken is continuing. The agency previously reported that the outbreak appeared to be over, but recent findings indicate otherwise.
The number of reported infections from all seven outbreak strains of Salmonella Heidelberg returned to baseline levels in January and the outbreak appeared to be over, as noted in the previous update on January 16, 2014. However, the investigation continued and ongoing surveillance in February identified that infections from two of the previously rare outbreak strains have again exceeded the number of infections expected to be reported to PulseNet during this time of year.
As of February 28, 2014, 481 individuals infected with the outbreak strains of Salmonella Heidelberg have been reported from 25 states and Puerto Rico since March 1, 2013. A total of 51 new ill persons have been recognized since the January 16, 2014, update.
Foster Farms responds
Foster Farms released an update on the progress the company has made in reducing the incidence of Salmonella on chicken parts processed at the facilities associated with the outbreak. The company said that since October 2013, it has implemented a multifaceted Salmonella control program that has reduced the prevalence of Salmonella on broiler parts to less than 10 percent. The USDA-measured industry benchmark is 25 percent.
Foster Farms CEO Ron Foster said, "We are on the right track, and have made outstanding progress. Millions of consumers continue to enjoy Foster Farms poultry products each day, and we want to ensure that they have the safest, healthiest experience."