WASHINGTON, Oct. 7, 2013 – Despite the partial government shutdown, USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) today was able to publish a “public health alert” after an estimated 278 illnesses were linked to consumption of raw chicken products from a California processor. The agency did not issue a recall of the products, sold in California, Oregon and Washington.

In a late afternoon statement, FSIS said the illness caused by strains of Salmonella Heidelberg is associated with chicken produced by Foster Farms at three facilities in California.

“At this point in the investigation, FSIS is unable to link the illnesses to a specific product and a specific production period,” the agency said. “Raw products from the facilities in question bear one of the establishment numbers inside a USDA mark of inspection or elsewhere on the package: P6137, P6137A or P7632.”

The outbreak is continuing, FSIS said. “The investigations indicate that consumption of Foster Farms brand chicken and other brand chicken produced at Foster Farms plants are the likely source of this outbreak.” It said the association was made through epidemiologic, laboratory and traceback investigations conducted by local, state, and federal officials.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is partnering with state health departments to monitor the outbreak while FSIS continues its investigation. FSIS is prepared to take additional actions or expand the investigation if new evidence is discovered.

Foster Farms, based in Livingston, Calif., said in a statement that it was cooperating with authorities to reduce the incidence of Salmonella Heidelberg on raw chicken products. “In addition to collaborating with FSIS and CDC, the company has retained national experts in epidemiology and food safety technology to assess current practices and identify opportunities for further improvement,” said Foster Farms President Ron Foster.




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