An outbreak of salmonella affected almost 300 people in the United States from March to September. Three plants operated by Foster Farms in California may be shut down by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The agency explained that the public is at risk and sent correspondence to the company’s CEO after they found high levels of salmonella bacteria at the plants.
The company hasn’t recalled any of the chicken although people in 17 states, mostly in California, were affected. Instead, it recommended that consumers cook the chicken to the internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. While the company doesn’t have a legal duty to issue recalls, one university professor believes they should recall the meat voluntarily in order to protect consumers and the company’s public image.
Foster Farms had an earlier outbreak of salmonella between January and July when 134 people in 13 states became ill. However, the Centers for Disease Controls estimates that there could be as many as 25 unreported salmonella cases for every case that is reported. This means that both outbreaks could have resulted in more than 10,000 illnesses. In the more recent incident, about 42 percent of people who became ill required hospitalization, which is about twice the average rate for salmonella. The USDA has released a warning to consumers and may stop meat inspections at the suspected plants, which would force the plants to cease production.
When someone becomes sick due to a food-borne illness, they might wonder if the company could have enforced higher safety standards. An attorney who has experience working with product liability might be able to hold the responsible parties accountable.
Source: NBC News, “USDA threatens to shutter Foster Farms plants tied to salmonella outbreak”, JoNel Aleccia, October 09, 2013