The firm said it closed its Livingston, California site immediately for sanitization and treatment after being notified of similar incidents (five in total) by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).
“This morning, a cockroach was observed during plant operations at the company's Livingston, Calif., plant and the company was notified of four similar incidents since September 2013 in FSIS correspondence...”
Cockroaches are believed to carry Salmonella but it is unclear whether they are the source of an ongoing multi-state outbreak.
Resolving the problem
Foster Farms said it completed the treatment yesterday (Wednesday) and will review its program with FSIS.
“This is an isolated incident; no other facilities are affected. Today's treatment is expected to fully resolve this incident. No products are affected. Product production has been transferred to the company's other facilities.”
The firm is working in cooperation with the USDA-FSIS to monitor and further reduce Salmonella levels during production.
New, multi-step processes for Salmonella control have been developed with the input of national food safety experts, it added.
Since September 2013, FSIS identified five cockroaches in the 250,000 square-foot Livingston plant.
The firm said a single incident is “not acceptable” and they were committed to a “zero-tolerance” policy.
A notice of suspension was sent to the firm yesterday by USDA-FSIS based on “egregious insanitary conditions,” according to the Oregonian .
“This is evidenced by findings of an infestation of live cockroaches in and around your production areas, that created insanitary conditions, and demonstrate that your firm failed to maintain an effective pest control program and other sanitary controls to assure that wholesome, unadulterated meat and poultry products are produced at your facility.”
USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service officials reportedly observed live cockroaches at the hand wash sink directly across from an inspection station while slaughter operations were in progress and exposed product was on the kill floor.
“The suspension will remain in effect until such time as you provide adequate written assurances of corrective and preventive measures to assure that meat and poultry products will be produced under sanitary conditions in accordance with the Poultry Products Inspection Act…”
Foster Farms is at the centre of a Salmonella outbreak that has sickened 416 people from 23 states and Puerto Rico, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
USDA-FSIS issued a health alert on 7 October due to concerns with three Foster Farms facilities in California.
Three days later the agency announced the firm submitted and implemented substantive changes to their slaughter and processing to allow for continued operations.
However, on 12 and 17 October Costco’s El Camino Real store in South San Francisco, California recalled more than 23,000 units of rotisserie chicken due to possible Salmonella Heidelberg contamination.
There has been no enforced recall of products with the message being the chicken is safe to eat if properly handled and fully cooked to an internal temperature of 165°F.