Salmonella has sickened almost 300 people from raw chicken products produced by Foster Farms at three facilities inCalifornia.
No specific product has been linked to the cases as yet, according to the US Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA-FSIS).
An estimated 278 illnesses have been reported in 18 states, predominantly in California, with investigations indicating that consumption of Foster Farms brand chicken and other brands produced at Foster Farms plants are the likely source of Salmonella Heidelberg infections.
The department is continuing to inspect meat, poultry and egg products but the government shutdown has impacted around 1,000 employees in FSIS.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is also hampered by the furloughing of staff.
It is partnering with state health departments to monitor the outbreak while FSIS continues its investigation.
Cooking temperature for poultry
All poultry products should be cooked to a safe minimum internal temperature of 165° F as determined by a food thermometer, said FSIS.
Raw products from the facilities bear establishment numbers P6137, P6137A or P7632 inside a USDA mark of inspection or elsewhere on the package.
The products were distributed to retail outlets in California, Oregon and Washington State.
Foster Farms said no recall is in effect and products are safe to consume if properly handled and fully cooked.
Salmonella Heidelberg is the nation’s third most common strain of the Salmonella pathogen.
Foster Farms said it has brought in additional food safety practices, processes and technology that have proven effective in controlling Salmonella in its Pacific Northwest operations earlier this year.
The firm was the subject of an earlier investigation with illnesses ranging from June 2012 to April 2013.
CDC announced that the Salmonella Heidelberg outbreak, which sickened 134 people across 13 states, was over in July .
“We are committed to ensuring the safety of our products, and our family-owned company has maintained an excellent food safety record during its near 80-year history,” said Ron Foster, Foster Farms president.
“We deeply regret any foodborne illness that may be associated with any of our products. Food safety is at the very heart of our business.
“In addition to collaborating with FSIS and CDC, the company has retained national experts in epidemiology and food safety technology to assess current practices and identify opportunities for further improvement.”