Three Foster Farms plants have been identified as distributing chicken with the “Heidelburg” strain of Salmonella. The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports most of the product went to outlets in the Northwest. So far, Oregon-based Foster Farms has not recalled the chicken in question. But at least one Northwest retail chain has pulled it from their shelves.
As soon as reports started coming in that some brands of Foster Farms chicken were associated with an outbreak of salmonella, Fred Meyer stores stopped selling it.
Spokeswoman, Melinda Merrill:
“We pulled all of the affected product and put the signage up so that our customers could understand why their favorite chicken may not be available and also understand that what’s important is that you cook chicken thoroughly. But in this case, if they would prefer to just return it, that we will give them a refund.”
To allay customer confusion, Merrill says the affected chicken was *not labeled Foster Farms at Fred Meyer. She says the products from the three plants under investigation carry the names “Simple Truth Organic” and “Kroger Value” and those were voluntarily removed.
Salmonella is endemic within poultry, but when health departments see a preponderance of one strain coming from a single manufacturer, it causes alarm.
Jason Davis is with Lane County Public Health. He says there have been about 300 cases in this Salmonella outbreak, the bulk of which are in California.
Davis: “In Oregon right now we have four confirmed cases. There’s about four more that we’re investigating. And then, one here in Lane County.”
Salmonella poisoning is rarely life threatening but the symptoms are no picnic. Diarrhea, fever and severe cramps typically occur within the first 72 hours. Davis says there is still a lurking problem: frozen chicken. He says the rules always apply: cook chicken to 160 degrees and wash all related surfaces and utensils.