Do you have any frozen chicken stored away in your freezer from Foster Farms or one of the private brands it produces? If so, please check it for the establishment number “P6137,” “P6137A, or “P7632” in the packaging’s USDA inspection seal, and for production dates of March 7 through March 13, 2014. After nearly a year and a half, with over 600 illnesses and 200 hospitalizations, Foster Farms of Livingston, California, finally recalled more than one million pounds of chicken products on July 3, 2014.
Some recalled frozen poultry products were sold under the Sunland Chicken brand and have a “best by” date ranging from March 7 through March 11, 2015, and recalled fresh poultry products sold under the Foster Farms label and other private labels have a “use or freeze by” date ranging from March 16 through March 31, 2014.
Although the products implicated in the recall are likely no longer being sold, recalled chicken products may still be stored in home freezers. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is recommending that consumers nationwide check to make sure they do not have these recalled products in their freezers, including both fresh poultry that consumers froze or processed frozen chicken products.
If a consumer does find a recalled product—don’t eat it. Either throw it away, or return it to the store for a refund. The Salmonella contaminating the chicken in this recall is resistant to multiple types of antibiotics, making it particularly dangerous. If you are concerned that you have eaten a contaminated poultry product, or have contracted an illness from a contaminated poultry product, seek medical attention immediately and ask your doctor to report your illness to your local health department.
The USDA’s recall notice and a list of recalled products can be viewed here.
Why is this recall so late?
The USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service issued a public health alert in October 2013, directly naming Foster Farms as the likely source of an outbreak of multidrug-resistant Salmonella Heidelberg infections. Foster Farms, however, declined to issue a recall.
On June 23, 2014, CDC successfully linked an illness in California to a specific Foster Farm’s poultry product and production lot. That connection allowed the USDA to issue its July 3rd recall. Similar information was not available for products causing other illnesses, and without it USDA did not ask Foster Farms to issue a recall.
The Outbreak is still ongoing
Please check your freezers today! A total of 621 individuals infected with the outbreak strains of Salmonella have already been reported from 29 states and Puerto Rico.
The CDC’s outbreak investigation notice can be read here.