California based poultry giant Foster Farms will recall some of the contaminated chicken linked to a massive salmonella outbreak that has stretched on for 16 months and sickened hundreds of consumers, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Foster Farms announced late Thursday.
It is the first recall by a California chicken producer after concerns were raised over an outbreak of an antibiotic-resistant strain of salmonella.
According to the US Department of Food and Agriculture, it has found clear evidence that directly links Foster Farms boneless skinless chicken breast to a case of Salmonella Heidelberg. More than 500 people have been sickened by Salmonella Heidelberg, which is an antibiotic-resistant strain of the disease, in the past 16 months.
Foster Farms says the affected products were produced in March and have a ‘use or freeze by’ date between March 21 and March 29. The products were distributed to California, Hawaii, Washington, Arizona, Nevada, Idaho, Utah, Oregon and Alaska.
The Foster Farms chicken was linked to a single case of Salmonella Heidelberg in California. The patient is believed to have fallen ill in May. The case is part of the ongoing outbreak that remains investigation by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and other agencies. Prior to the patient in California, there had been no link between the outbreak and a particular product or production lot, the USDA said.
It was on June 23 when the investigators of the USDA first got to know about the salmonella case. The recall was issued immediately after the direct link was confirmed. They did not disclose the location of the case and identity of the person.
According to a statement from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Foster Farms has agreed to recall chicken products that it produced on March 8, 10 and 11 this year at its plant in Livingston, Calif. and two facilities in Fresno, California.
To date, the pathogen has been linked to making nearly 600 people sick, including children, and hospitalized 40 percent of those who have fallen ill – about double the typical rate, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Though the outbreak has slowed in recent months, new cases of Salmonella Heidelberg illnesses were still being reported through May of this year, according to epidemiologists at California’s state health department and the CDC.