Foster Farms, a California-based poultry producer, has been named as the likely cause of the recent Salmonella outbreak that's sickened more than 250 people in 18 states, according to federal health officials.
No recall has yet been issued because the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service hasn't narrowed down a specific product or production period, but the contaminated food has been linked to Foster Farms, CNN reported.
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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is reportedly monitoring the outbreak, and said an estimated 278 people in 18 states have gotten sick so far, with most of the cases reported in California, Oregon, and Washington state.
"Salmonella is naturally occurring in poultry and can be fully eradicated if raw product is properly handled and fully cooked," Dr. Robert O’Connor, Foster Farm's food safety chief and head veterinarian, said in a statement. "All poultry producers strive to reduce bacterial presence, including Salmonella. We take food safety very seriously. When the incidence of illnesses linked to Salmonella increased, we wanted to know why and we have worked quickly to identify and implement additional controls."
Salmonella Heidelberg, the particular strain of bacteria in the Foster Farms outbreak, causes diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps, which typically begin within 12 to 72 hours. This may be accompanied by vomiting, chills, headache, and muscle pains, according to the CDC.
These symptoms may last about four to seven days, and then go away without specific treatment, but left unchecked, Salmonella infection may spread to the bloodstream and beyond, and may cause death if the person is not treated promptly with antibiotics.
"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," Foster Farms President Ron Foster wrote in a statement on the company's website.
"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. It is a continuous process of improvement."
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