Hundreds Sick in 18 States From Salmonella Linked to Raw Foster Farms Chickens; Officials Say Outbreak Is Ongoing

Categories: News

1-raw-chicken.jpg
snowpea&bokchoi via Flickr
The outbreak began in March, but investigators had a hard time pinpointing a source.
A public health alert was issued Monday for raw chicken packaged at three Foster Farms facilities in California. Since March, some 278 people have gotten sick from salmonella Heidelberg infection, mainly in California, though the illness has reached a total of 18 states so far.

Though the USDA was first notified of the illnesses in July, the outbreak still hasn't been directly linked to a specific product or production period.

See also: The Government Shutdown and Your Food: FDA Meat Inspections Will Continue, Other Food Safety Inspections Will Not

You can avoid suspect products by looking at the USDA mark of inspection. Raw products from the facilities in question will be marked with one of the establishment numbers below:


  • "P6137"

  • "P6137A"

  • "P7632"

No recall is in effect, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is working with state health departments to monitor the outbreak while the Food Safety and Inspection Service continues to investigate, according to the USDA. The FSIS is one of the branches of the USDA that is continuing to work despite the government shutdown, though some of the staff has been furloughed.

A Foster Farms press release states, "It is also important to reassure the public that the FSIS process has not been affected by the recent government shutdown." Though other reports point out that because of the shutdown, investigators who conduct multi-state outbreak investigations won't be working.

A Centers for Disease Control staffer told Wired:

I know that we will not be conducting multi-state outbreak investigations. States may continue to find outbreaks, but we won't be doing the cross-state consultation and laboratory work to link outbreaks that might cross state borders.

And according to an ABC report:

"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."

Both Foster Farms and the FSIS are taking this as an opportunity to remind consumers about the importance of fully cooking raw poultry to 165 degrees. Doing so will kill the bacteria, which can cause salmonellosis. Symptoms include diarrhea, abdominal cramps, fever, chills, headache, nausea, and vomiting that can last up to seven days. Infections can be life-threatening to those with weak immune systems, such as infants, the elderly, and people with HIV infection or undergoing chemotherapy.

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18 comments
Manetta Crick
Manetta Crick

you won't find any dead animals in my freezer

jliven23
jliven23

I lost over 30 lbs in 7 days by not cooking my chicken. I don't recommend doing it more than once a year though as it takes a toll and could be fatal.

teknik
teknik topcommenter

There's a reason you need to cook chickens all the way through.  this stuff should be expected, raw chicken = bad.

Brigitte Pacula
Brigitte Pacula

cook your chicken properly and any salmonella will be killed off.

fred188
fred188

I checked my freezer this afternoon and we had $75 worth of Foster Farm Chicken with the P6137 code, which I think might be for the processing plant in CA that supplies AZ.  I brought them to my local Fry's at Chandler/40th St.  The manager was very gracious and refunded the money on a  Fry's gift card being that I didn't have a receipt.  Who keeps a receipt for chicken???

Fred Barlam
Fred Barlam

Brought back $75 worth of chicken to Fry's today. They all had the the P6137 code which I think might be the processing plant in CA that supplies AZ.

Danny Stauffer
Danny Stauffer

I may be wrong, but my understanding is that there are still meat inspections... just no other food inspections. Still scary, though

Danny Stauffer
Danny Stauffer

or you could... you know... just not eat raw chicken

Bobbi Coon
Bobbi Coon

I have always had a hard time cooking poultry. Now I'm even more paranoid. Go beef... Pork... Fish... Lamb.... Bison... Tofu... Sushi...Ostrich... It's what's for dinner. Ewe!!!

David James
David James

NT, you missed a great opportunity here. Should've used a photo of the underside of the alien facehugger. "Tastes just like chicken"

JohnV4
JohnV4

went home and checked my frezzer during lunch, both packages read P6137A. i bought both from frys in on cooper and warner less than a month ago when they had there buy 1 get 2 free sale

cbrayson
cbrayson

All 5 of my packages have the P6137 code on them, and Fry's won't let me exchange them, but said I could get money back for one item. I also bought them as part of their sale

mexicancheese
mexicancheese

@cbrayson there's no recall, why would fry's exchange them? You are to heat them to at least 165 degrees, and then enjoy the salmonella carcasses, which are considered white meat.

cbrayson
cbrayson

@mexicancheeseI guess I figured calling and asking nicely would give them an opportunity for good customer service. Instead, I got an angry woman on the phone who acted like I just wanted money (no, I'd rather have good chicken) and transferred me to the meat department so she didn't have to deal with it. I always thoroughly cook my chicken, and being pregnant I'm super careful about everything. But, it's hard to imagine hundreds are sick just for undercooking their chicken. Oh well.

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