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Foster Farms Fresh Chicken Causes Salmonella Scare

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Photo by via the DVSRoss on Flickr
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Some 278 people in 18 states have fallen ill since strains of Salmonella Heidelberg were detected in Foster Farms fresh chicken back in March.

The illnesses have been predominantly located in California, where the company is headquartered. What's most concerning, is that this virulent strain of salmonella is particularly resistant to antibiotics, and it has a higher rate of hospitalization -- about 42 percent -- which is double the normal rate.

This scare has been a long time in the making.

Says CNN:

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The USDA has told the company since the beginning of the year “your establishment has had multiple regulatory non-compliances issued for insanitary conditions.” The USDA is threatening to pull federal inspectors in three Foster Farms plants which would, in effect, suspend production.

We would directly quote the statement from the USDA released on Monday, however the federally-run website isn't available because of the government shut down. Their homepage states that "Due to the lapse in federal government funding, this website is not available. After funding has been restored, please allow some time for this website to become available again." (Foster Farms has issued an apology to those impacted by the food borne illness from their president on their fully-functional site here.)

Adding to the problem is the fact that the Center For Disease Control has furloughed its scientists and employees because of the shut down. They've since brought back some employees to help address the issue.

Reports the AP:

The Centers for Disease Control, which monitors the microbes that signal multi-state outbreaks of food poisoning, was working with a barebones staff because of the federal government shutdown, with all but two of the 80 staffers that normally analyze foodborne pathogens furloughed.
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There has yet to be a full recall. In the meantime, it's being deemed safe to eat so long as the chicken is heated to the proper 165 degrees, despite the fact that Salmonella Heidelberg is particularly resistant to antibiotics and has landed all these people in hospitals.

But in case that doesn't exactly qualm your fears, the impacted packages will be labeled P6137, P6137A and P7632.

If video is more your speed, you can watch the CNN report below.