The number of people infected with antibiotic-resistant salmonella after consuming chicken processed by Foster Farms continues to climb, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). At least 524 people have been sickened across 25 states and Puerto Rico with one of seven strains of salmonella.
The outbreak was declared “over” on Jan. 16 with 430 illnesses, but more cases of salmonella poisonings continued to pour in. The CDC reports that three quarters of those infected are from California and that more than a third have been hospitalized. No deaths have been reported during the year-long outbreak.
The culprit appears to be fresh chicken parts processed at the Foster Farms plant. However, the company has yet to issue a recall, nor has the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection requested one.
Foster Farms responded to the additional illnesses with the following statement:
“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 are raised, 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 below the USDA-measured industry benchmark of 25 percent.”
Salmonella infection causes symptoms such as diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramping that develop 12 to 72 hours after consuming contaminated foods. The illness usually lasts four to seven days and most people recover without treatment. However, infants, the elderly and those with compromised immune systems may be more vulnerable to complications.