Health officials are warning consumers about a salmonella outbreak
affecting raw chicken produced at three California facilities. The
chicken was sold here as well as in Oregon and Washington, and the
contamination appears to have sickened nearly 300 people across the
county, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. A recall is not
Investigators with the Food Safety and Inspection
Service say the outbreak is continuing after an estimated 278 illnesses
were recently reported in 18 states, predominately in California. The
illnesses have been linked to Foster Farms brand raw chicken, and the
likely source of infection is being caused by strains
of Salmonella Heidelberg.
According to Dr. Robert O'Connor,
Foster Farms' food safety chief and head veterinarian, salmonella
is naturally occurring in poultry and can be avoided if the raw product
is properly handled and fully cooked.
Investigators have not yet
been able to pinpoint a specific product or production period, however.
The outbreak appears to be associated with products marked “P6137,”
“P6137A” and “P7632,” according to the USDA.
the most common symptoms of salmonellosis are diarrhea, abdominal
cramps, and fever within eight to 72 hours. Additional symptoms may be
chills, headache, nausea and vomiting that can last up to seven days.
Foster Farms says the products have not been recalled,
and that the infections were caused when consumers ate chicken that had
been undercooked or handled improperly during preparation. A company
spokesperson says the chicken presents no risk when it is fully cooked
and consumers use safe food handling practices.
recommends the following guidelines to properly handle raw poultry in a
manner to prevent contamination from spreading to other foods and food
—Follow package cooking instructions for frozen
or fresh chicken products and general food safety guidelines when
handling and preparing any raw meat or poultry.
while cooking instructions may give a specific number of minutes of
cooking for each side of the product in order to attain 165 °F internal
temperature, consumers should be aware that actual time may vary
depending on the cooking method (broiling, frying, or grilling) and the
temperature of the product (chilled versus frozen) so it is important
that the final temperature of 165 °F must be reached for safety.
—Do not rely on the cooking time for each side of the product, but use a food thermometer.
poultry products should be cooked to a safe minimum internal
temperature of 165° F as determined by a food thermometer. Using a food
thermometer is the only way to know that food has reached a high enough
temperature to destroy food-borne bacteria.