Salmonella Heidelberg in Foster Farms chicken has sickened 389 people in 23 states and Puerto Rico. The seven antibiotic-resistant strains associated with this outbreak have caused severe illness. Forty percent of those sickened have been hospitalized and in 14 percent of cases, the bacterial infections have migrated from the GI tract into the blood causing septicemia, a life-threatening condition. Normally, about 5 percent of Salmonella infections develop that complication.
California has been hardest hit by the outbreak with 74 percent of the cases. By state, the breakdown of total cases is as follows: Alaska (1), Arkansas (1), Arizona (16), California (288), Colorado (7), Connecticut (1), Delaware (1), Florida (4), Idaho (4), Illinois (1), Kentucky (1), Louisiana (1), Michigan (3), Missouri (5), North Carolina (1), Nevada (10), New Mexico (2), Oregon (10), Puerto Rico (1), Texas (10), Utah (2), Virginia (3), Washington (15), and Wisconsin (1).
Foster Farms has not issued a recall for its raw chicken. But, some retailers removed it from their stores after the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA-FSIS) issued a Public Health Alert on October 7 for chicken produced at three Foster Farms facilities in California. In a letter to the company FSIS cited “insanitary conditions” and “poor sanitary dressing practices, insanitary food contact surfaces, insanitary non food contact surfaces and direct product contamination.”
On October 12 and October 17, 2013, a Costco store on El Camino Real in South San Francisco, California recalled more than 23,000 rotisserie chicken products made from Foster Farms chicken, after some illnesses were reported among those who had eaten it.
A Salmonella outbreak unrelated to Foster Farms chicken has sickened at least seven people in California, according to Food Poisoning Bulletin. At least five of those sickened are residents of Shasta County.
Health authorities are trying to determine the source of the outbreak and if any of the illnesses may be associated with food served at a Redding restaurant. Salmonella Attorney Fred Pritzker and his Bad Bug Law Team are also investigating the outbreak. Pritzker, who as won millions for victims of food poisoning, including a recent $4.5 million dollar recovery for one food poisoning victim, said, “Salmonella is a major public health threat and what makes it so sad is that these cases are preventable.”
People get Salmonella infections when they eat or drink foods that have microscopic amounts of human or animal fecal matter on them. Symptoms of an infection include fever, vomiting and diarrhea, and can last up to a week. If the infection moves from the digestive tract to the bloodstream, the infection can be deadly. Salmonella infections can also trigger long-term conditions such as reactive arthritis which causes painful swelling of the joints, inflammation of the heart, spine, tendons and eye membranes.
For a free consultation about your Salmonella case, contact Fred by calling toll free 1 (888) 377- 8900 or reach him online.
In August of this year, 80 people got Salmonella poisoning from food sold at the Ecuador Independence Day (celebracion de independencia de Ecuador) festival in Minneapolis. We were contacted by people sickened after eating roasted guinea pig at the festival. At the time, it appeared that the roasted guinea pig had been tainted with Salmonella bacteria by another food item at the festival. Now, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture has determined that 3 roasted pigs (the farmyard kind) were the initial source of the outbreak. The roast pig has been purchased by the owner of New York Plaza Produce, Nieves Riera, who bought 3 roasted pigs from Shuang Hur BBQ on Nicollet Avenue, according to the Star Tribune:
An Agriculture Department investigator determined the pork probably had low levels of salmonella when Riera bought it, but the salmonella likely grew and spread through cross-contamination.
“The fact that there was further preparation and serving at the festival, and that it was a multi-hour process, it’s likely that any contamination just multiplied” and cross-contaminated rice, beans and guinea pig meat, Carrie Rigdon, an Ag Department investigator told the Star Tribune. “If not held at the right temperature, you get into this zone where any salmonella is really happy and keeps growing,” she said.
Riera may have broken the law by reselling meat purchased at a retail market, and he was fined for slaughtering guinea pigs without authorization.
A Salmonella attorney assigned to represent victims in the Foster Farms California outbreak is applauding the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) for moving to shut down a group of poultry plants associated with the wide-scale contamination of mass-marketed chicken products. Ryan Osterholm said he expects the agency to follow through with the threatened shutdown this week based on his reading of a five-page letter to Foster Farms by FSIS District Manager Yudhbir Sharma.
“We’ve been concerned about manufacturing conditions at Foster Farms for more than a year,” said Osterholm, whose firm, Pritzker Olsen Attorneys, has been retained by people sickened in the outbreak. “Hundreds of people up and down the West Coast have been getting dangerously sick from chicken-borne Salmonella through no fault of their own.”
If you or a loved one are among the victims of the Foster Farms raw chicken Salmonella outbreak, contact Ryan for a free consultation of your legal options. This week’s federal intervention against poultry producer Foster Farms is rare and indicates a potentially high degree of fault, Osterholm said.
According to a copy of the USDA-FSIS document letter to Foster Farms, food safety experts in the agency are “very concerned” with the failure of Foster Farms to implement adequate and supportable control measures to address Salmonella bacteria in its Fresno plant, 6137A, that has been directly tied to the outbreak since July. People have continued to get sick since then and a high percentage of the victims have been hospitalized with complications from their infections. The letter also notes an ongoing surveillance of Salmonella at Foster Farms plants in Livingston, California, and Kelso, Washington.
Here is an excerpt from the USDA “Notice of Intended Enforcement” threatening shutdown this week:
“Pathogens such as Salmonella are of serious public health concern and can cause a variety of illnesses. The organism can cause a serious infection which can lead to illnesses, including death. Your establishment has failed to demonstrate that it has adequate controls in place to address Salmonella in your poultry products as evidenced by the continuing illness outbreak. Your establishment’s control measures and antimicrobial interventions in your Slaughter, Raw Intact and Raw Non Intact operations are not sufficient to control Salmonella, specifically, Salmonella Heidelberg, which has been associated with the illness outbreak.”
Osterholm said he was shocked to read in the USDA letter that the main Fresno poultry plant at Foster Farms has been identifying Salmonella “as a food safety hazard not reasonably likely to occur in raw intact and raw non-intact processes.”
Chicken Contaminated with Salmonella Heidelberg Sickens over 270 in California, Oregon, Washington and Other States
Raw chicken produced by Foster Farms in 3 different plants has been linked to over 270 Salmonella Heidelberg infections in 18 states. The chicken was sold by the company to retailers in California, Oregon and Washington, and these retailers distributed to retail stores in other states.
Prompted by this outbreak, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) issued a public health alert recommending consumers not eat certain raw chicken products processed at three Foster Farms facilities in California. The raw chicken products in question include raw products that bear one of the following establishment numbers inside a USDA mark of inspection or elsewhere on the package:
The products, sold under the Foster Farms brand and other brands.
The USDA-FSIS health alert lacked specificity. It did not say whether this outbreak is a continuation of an earlier outbreak of Salmonella Heidelberg linked to Foster Farms chicken that started in June of 2012. The CDC was brought in to help with the earlier investigation, and the agency reported in July of 2013 that 134 people in 13 states had been sickened: Alabama (1), Alaska (13), California (10), Hawaii (1), Idaho (2), Massachusetts (1), Montana (2), New York (1), Oregon (40), Utah (3), Virginia (1), Washington (57), and West Virginia (1). According to the CDC, this was the final report, but it is possible the agency thought the outbreak was over and was mistaken.
The FSIS alluded to “new evidence” in this current health alert. We are calling on the FSIS to be as transparent as possible in this outbreak because this company has a history of selling contaminated raw chicken. We are also calling on FSIS to explain why the agency allowed Foster Farms to continue to produce raw poultry products in 3 plants that had been implicated in an outbreak. Is this a case where consumer safety was ignored in favor of economic gain?
You can contact our lawyers for a free consultation here. Attorneys Fred Pritzker, Brendan Flaherty and Ryan Osterholm are our lead lawyers for our Salmonella cases. They represent clients nationwide in personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits against food processors, retailers and others.