The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that as of April 7, 524 people infected with seven outbreak strains of Salmonella Heidelberg have been reported from 25 states and Puerto Rico, since March 1, 2013. This new total is43 illnesses higher than what was reported through February 28. No deaths have been reported, but 37 percent of the illnesses resulted in hospitalizations.
Epidemiologic, laboratory and trace-back investigations conducted by local, state and federal officials indicate that consumption of Foster Farms brand chicken is the likely source of this outbreak of Salmonella Heidelberg infections. The outbreak strains of Salmonella Heidelberg are resistant to several commonly prescribed antibiotics, but not ones that are typicallyused to treat Salmonella bloodstream infections or other severe Salmonella infections.
Foster Farms released a statement claiming that the company was reducing Salmonella levels on its products. According to Foster Farms' statement, "Foster Farms is committed to leadership in food safety and producing the safest chicken on the WestCoast. Since October 2013, Foster Farms has developed a multiple-hurdle approach to reduce or eliminate Salmonella at each stage of production - from screening breeder flocks before entering the Foster Farms system, to farms where the birds areraised, to the plants where the chicken is processed as a whole bird and when it is cut into parts. As a result, the company has steadily reduced the prevalence of Salmonella at the parts level toward a goal of less than 10 percent - well belowthe USDA-measured industry benchmark of 25 percent."