A Salmonella Heidelberg outbreak which has impacted consumers in 27 states and Puerto Rico has infected 574 individuals as of May 22, according to an update released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on May 27. CDC reports that 50 more people reported illnesses since the April 9 update, an average of eight new illnesses per week. The outbreak has been linked to Foster Farms chicken products from three facilities.
Among 560 persons for whom information is available, illness onset dates range from March 1, 2013, to May 1, 2014. Ill persons range in age from less than 1 year to 93 years, with a median age of 18 years. Fifty-one percent of ill persons are male. Among 478 persons with available information, 178 (37 percent) reported being hospitalized. Thirteen percent of ill persons have developed blood infections as a result of their illness. Typically, approximately 5 percent of persons ill with Salmonella infections develop blood infections. No deaths have been reported.
Foster Farms reports making numerous changes in its operations to reduce Salmonella levels on its products. In a statement released May 27, Foster Farms said: “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 enhancing procedures on the farms where the birds are raised, to adding sanitation interventions in the plants where the chicken is processed as a whole bird and when it is cut into parts. As a result, the company continues to make steady progress that has effectively reduced Salmonella at the parts level to less than 10 percent – well below the 2011-12 USDA-measured industry benchmark of 25 percent. With each set of sampling, Foster Farms has demonstrated a significant improvement in Salmonella control.”