I don’t know about you, but chicken is on the menu at least two nights a week at our house, so the news of this latest Salmonella outbreak is beyond disconcerting. Although we wrote about this outbreak two days ago, according to NBC News, health officials have cautioned consumers to cook chicken thoroughly along with other precautions due to an 18-state outbreak that has made almost 300 people sick in the past few months.
While health officials say there is no official recall planned, they have issued a public health alert for raw chicken packaged at three Foster Farms facilities in California. 278 people have fallen ill thus far.
While this particular strain, Salmonella Heidelberg, has reached people from 18 states, the USDA said the strain was associated with chicken that had been distributed to retail stores in Oregon, Washington, and California.
This comes on the heels of another outbreak traced to west coast poultry producer Foster Farms earlier this year, although spokeswoman for the Centers for Disease Control Barbara Reynolds says this was likely a separate incident.
As with many things these days, the incident and reporting on it have been affected by the government shutdown. As the NBC News article points out, not many details could be gleaned due to limited staffing caused by the shutdown.
Foster Farms officials released a statement assuring the public that they have been collaborating with FSIS and CDC to eradicate Salmonella at its sites. They have hired national experts to “assess current practices and identify opportunities for further improvement.”
Symptoms of Salmonella include diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever within eight hours to three days after eating the contaminated food. Chills, headache, nausea, and vomiting can last up to a week. This particular strain can be life threatening to those with compromised immune systems, such as the elderly, children, and those with HIV or cancer.