Agribiz giant Foster Farms serves up salmonella

The Agriculture Department issued a public health alert this week, saying that a strain of salmonella may have sickened 278 people who reported becoming ill after they ate poultry produced by Foster Farms. The raw meats “in question” were being sold in packages bearing the codes P6137, P6137A and P7632, which are the listings for the Foster Farms plants in which the products were processed.  This is not the first time the government has linked Foster Farms poultry to salmonella poisoning. In July, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported tying 134 cases of it dating back to June 2012, including 33 that required hospitalization, to Foster Farms products.

Foster Farms referred calls to Tom Super, the spokesman for the National Chicken Council. Mr. Super said that he could not speak for the company, but he added that as far as he knew the cases in the most recent outbreak started showing up about nine months ago.

“This isn’t a recall, because they haven’t been able to link it to a specific product,” Mr. Super said.

The Food Safety Inspection Service began investigating the most recent outbreak in July, asking patients for shopping receipts and other shopping records to identify the products. Once it determined that the products came from Foster Farms, the company was contacted.

On its Web site, Foster Farms said that it was cooperating with the Agriculture Department and the C.D.C. and that it had already taken steps to ensure the plants in question were free of the pathogen.

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