A recall has not been issued for Foster Farms chicken products, and federal health officials are threatening to shut down three of the poultry manufacturer's plants over the recent salmonella outbreak.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service issued a public health risk memo Monday after detecting high levels of a strain of Salmonella in raw chicken products at two Fresno, Calif., Foster Farms locations and one in Livingston, according to NBC News.
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The USDA gave Foster Farms until Thursday to respond or else the agency would withhold inspections, essentially shutting down the plants.
So far, 278 people in 17 states — most of them in California — have been sickened with an especially resilient strain of Salmonella called Heidelberg.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
, a person will experience diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps within 12 to 72 hours of exposure to the bacteria. This may be accompanied by vomiting, chills, headache, and muscle pains, and the symptoms may last about four to seven days, and then go away without specific treatment. But if left unchecked, a Salmonella infection may spread to the bloodstream and beyond, and may cause death if the person is not treated promptly with antibiotics.
Foster Farms claims it has complied with every USDA request by applying new practices, consulting with national food safety experts, and implementing new technology.
"I want to reassure you that we are taking every possible step to ensure the current and future safety of our chicken products," Ron Foster, president and CEO of Foster Farms, said in a statement Wednesday. "Food safety is, and has always been, at the heart of our business. I am deeply sorry for any illness associated with Foster Farms chicken and for any concern or confusion caused by this week's activity."
This is the second Foster Farms Salmonella outbreak in less than a year. In January, 134 people in 13 states were sickened, NBC News reported.
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