Chicken pinpointed as cause of salmonella outbreak

In this April 3, 2013 photo, chickens are seen at a chicken farm on the outskirts of Shanghai, China.(AP Photo/Gillian Wong)

In this April 3, 2013 photo, chickens are seen at a chicken farm on the outskirts of Shanghai, China.(AP Photo/Gillian Wong)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Health officials urged consumers to cook chicken thoroughly and take other precautions after an 18-state salmonella outbreak that has made hundreds sick in recent months.

A public health alert was issued for raw chicken packaged at three Foster Farms facilities in California as some 278 people have fallen ill since strains of Salmonella Heidelberg were first detected in March, the United States Department of Agriculture said in a statement Monday.

The strains were associated with chicken distributed to retail outlets in California, Oregon and Washington state, the USDA said. The illnesses have been predominantly in California but the salmonella has reached people from 18 states, the statement said.

The outbreak appears to have begun in March and the USDA was notified of the illnesses in July, said Dan Engeljohn of the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service. Investigators had a difficult time pinpointing the source of the illnesses, Englejohn said.

A spokesman for Foster Farms said no recall was in effect and that the infections were caused by eating chicken that was undercooked or improperly handled. The three facilities that packaged the chicken were all in California's Central Valley — one in Livingston and two in Fresno.

The USDA has not directly linked the outbreak of illnesses to a specific product or production period. The USDA mark on suspect packages would read: P6137, P6137A and P7632.

State health officials were not planning a recall, but said it is essential that chicken be cooked to 165 degrees.

"This is the important public health issue," Anita Gore, spokeswoman for the California Department of Public Health. "Chicken can carry bacteria, and chicken needs to be fully cooked."

Gore also said people need to thoroughly wash their hands after handling raw meat, and anyone who believes they were infected and is showing symptoms like diarrhea and abdominal cramps should contact doctors immediately.

Salmonella is a pathogen that contaminates meat during slaughter and processing, and is especially common in undercooked chicken.

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. It was not immediately clear whether the shortage affected the response to the salmonella outbreak.
Associated Press
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Join the Conversation!

To comment, the following rules must be followed:

  • No Obscenity, Profanity, Vulgarity, Racism or Violent Descriptions
  • No Negative Community Comparisons
  • No Fighting, Name-calling, or Personal Attacks
  • Multiple Accounts are Not Allowed
  • Stay on Story Topic

Comments may be monitored for inappropriate content, but the station is under no legal obligation to do so.
If you believe a comment violates the above rules, please use the Flagging Tool to alert a Moderator.
Flagging does not guarantee removal.

Multiple violations may result in account suspension.
Decisions to suspend or unsuspend accounts are made by Station Moderators.
Links require admin approval before posting.
Questions may be sent to webmaster@wvlt-tv.com. Please provide detailed information.

powered by Disqus

WVLT VOLUNTEER TV

6450 Papermill Drive Knoxville, TN 37919 Phone - (865) 450-8888; Fax - (865) 450-8869
Gray Television, Inc. - Copyright © 2014 WVLT-TV Inc. - Designed by Gray Digital Media - Powered by Clickability 226881551