The Salmonella outbreak caused by contaminated Foster Farms chicken has spread to Washington State. As of October 9th, fifteen people had been poisoned by salmonella in Washington. The outbreak is linked to raw chicken products produced in three facilities in California with a total of 300 people have been infected, so far, in 17 states. In addition to the Foster Farms brand, other brand chicken produced at Foster Farms plants has been contaminated.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has issued a public health alert and the public was warned to look out for chicken with lot numbers P6137, P6137A, and P7632.
Remarkably, Foster Farms has not recalled the chicken. Fred Meyer, QFC, and other Kroger stores have voluntarily pulled it from their stores.
The Risk of Salmonella in Raw Poultry
A letter from the USDA to Foster Farms said that USDA inspectors had documented poor sanitary dressing practices, unsanitary nonfood contact surfaces, sanitary food contact surfaces, and direct product contamination with fecal material on carcasses at Foster Farms processing plants. The USDA also said that the conditions at the facility “could pose a serious ongoing threat to public health”.
This is not the first outbreak involved Foster Farms chicken. Earlier in 2013, 130 people in Washington and Oregon were sickened by Foster Farms chicken with 30 percent of them requiring hospitalization.
For more information on the outbreak, please see the USDA’s public health alert.
What is Salmonella?
Salmonella is a bacteria that can cause serious illness or even death. There are many different kinds of salmonella. This particular outbreak is caused by a strain of Salmonella Heidelberg. The bacteria can multiply in the intestines, causing intestinal inflammation, abdominal cramps, dehydration, diarrhea, and fever. Young children and the elderly are most susceptible to infection.
Salmonella infections can be life-threatening to those with a weakened immune system. There is no vaccine for salmonella but when hospitalization is required, treatment may include the use of intravenous fluids to rehydrate and flush the system and antibiotics.
Salmonella infections can be avoided by property handling and cooking of raw poultry. Always thoroughly wash meat and poultry and do not eat it if it is not well-cooked.
What to Look Out For
Salmonella symptoms can be slow to develop. As a result, discovery of outbreaks take longer than other pathogens such as E. coli. However, illness should not be taken lightly. Approximately 600 people die each year in the U.S. from acute salmonellosis.
Food products sold to consumers are not supposed to cause harm. Those that sell food products are supposed to use reasonable care to ensure the safety of food and warrant that their food is fit to eat.
If you suspect you or a loved one has been infected, seek immediate medical attention. By law, victims of salmonella may be entitled to compensation for the damages they’ve sustained. In the most tragic of cases, the estate of the deceased has a right to bring a salmonella wrongful death lawsuit.