Foster Poultry Farms Inc., linked to more than 600 salmonella illnesses during the past year, had hundreds of food safety violations. These violations involve feces-contaminated bird carcasses including several after a facility was shuttered for a cockroach infestation. This all came from U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) documents released on Sept. 8. Between September 2013 to March, Foster facilities around the U.S. received hundreds of noncompliance reports by USDA safety inspectors, despite the corrective steps the company was purportedly taking after the outbreak of antibiotic-resistant Salmonella the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) linked to its plants in California including in Livingston and Fresno, according to the inspection records that environmental group Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request.
Foster Farms Livingston facility, which the USDA shuttered temporarily in January because of a cockroach infestation, was cited 154 times after October, when USDA issued a public health alert about its chicken, according to the inspection records. NRDC, referring to the plant’s temporary shut-down in January, said in a statement:
At the time, Foster Farms responded with a statement saying this was an “isolated incident” and pledged a “zero tolerance” policy in tackling food safety violations. Yet, over the next two months, inspectors cited the plant at least 48 more times.
Foster Farms said in October that it was cooperating with the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service and the CDC to limit the spread of the outbreak. The company also said it hired epidemiology and food safety technology experts to examine its food safety system. Despite such assurances, Foster facilities were found to have numerous violations involving mold and cockroaches, as well as fecal matter and so-called unidentified foreign material on bird carcasses that were inspected, according to the reports. Foster Farms says it has cleaned up its act and, hopefully, it has.
The poultry maker also stressed that the CDC in July ended its investigation of the Salmonella Heidelberg outbreak linked to its raw chicken products, and said the Salmonella levels in its raw chicken part products during the past four months was less than 5 percent, compared to the 25 percent industry average, according to its statement.
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