Foster Farms announced last Thursday that a recall has been issued for over one million pounds of contaminated chicken products.
Epidemiologic, laboratory, and traceback investigations conducted by local, state, and federal officials indicate the consumption of Foster Farms brand chicken is the likely source of the outbreak of Salmonella Heidelberg infections.
Since February 2013, when the outbreak first began, 621 individuals have been infected with Salmonella Heidelberg after consuming the chicken products from the California poultry producer. The infected individuals have been identified from 29 states and Puerto Rico.
Most of the ill persons (76%) have been reported from California. 36% of ill persons have been hospitalized, and no deaths have been reported.
The recalled chicken was sold in March of this year in nine Western states. Because the chicken was sold fresh, it is no longer a threat in stores.
However "it could still be in consumer's freezers," said Ira Brill, the company's director of communication. The chicken was sold in California, Hawaii, Washington, Arizona, Nevada, Idaho, Utah, Oregon, and Alaska.
Since the outbreak began over a year ago, Foster Farms has received an insurmountable amount of pressure from the public and food safety advocates across the country. In the statement announcing the recall, Foster Farms said it was done "in the fullest interest of food safety" and "regrets any illness associated with its products."
Salmonella is transmitted by food, water, or surfaces that have been contaminated with the feces of an infected animal or person. Many animals carry Salmonella yet do not get sick. It can also be found in unpasteurized egg and milk products. It is commonly transmitted via the fecal-oral route, from one infected person to another.
Symptoms (which develop 6 to 72 hours after infection) may be mild and a person can continue to carry Salmonella for weeks after symptoms have subsided.