The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently reported the total number of illnesses tied to tainted chicken from the California-based producer has climbed to 524. The incidents were reported in 25 different states and Puerto Rico, though more than 75% of the reported illnesses have been in California.
According to the CDC, salmonella cases tied to the tainted poultry have climbed since the initial incident in March 2013. In January 2014, officials reported the outbreak appeared to have ceased; however, CDC representatives said there was a resurgence in illnesses in February.
No consumers affected in the outbreak have died, according to the CDC. However, more than one-third of the stricken people reportedly have been hospitalized.
Foster Farms, during the early stages of the outbreak, claimed the salmonella infections were caused by consumers eating chicken that had not been properly cooked, or handled.
Representatives of Foster Farms could not be reached for comment. However, the company released a statement pointing toward strides it has made in control of pathogens, specifically salmonella, at its production plants.
“Foster Farms has developed a multiple-hurdle approach to reduce or eliminate salmonella at each stage of production—from screening breeder flocks before entering the Foster Farms system, to farms where the birds are raised, to the plants where the chicken is processed as a whole bird, and when it is cut into parts,” they said.
Additionally, Foster Farms reports it has successfully lowered the presence of salmonella at its facilities to less than 10%, below the US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) benchmark of 25%.
Salmonella has not been the only struggle for Foster Farms in the past year. FoodQualityNews reported in January the producer’s Livingston, California, facility was shuttered after USDA inspectors found cockroaches during several visits (read more about the incident here).