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Multistate Outbreak of Multidrug-Resistant Salmonella Heidelberg Infections Linked to Foster Farms Brand Chicken (Final Update)

This outbreak appears to be over. However, Salmonella is an important cause of human illness in the United States. More information about Salmonella, and steps people can take to reduce their risk of infection, can be found on the CDC Salmonella Web Page.

Recalls

On October 12, 2013, Costco’s El Camino Real store located in South San Francisco, California recalled more than 9,000 units (approximately 40,000 pounds) of rotisserie chicken products that may be contaminated with Salmonella Heidelberg. The products subject to recall included 8,730 “Kirkland Signature Foster Farms” rotisserie chickens and 313 total units of “Kirkland Farm” rotisserie chicken soup, rotisserie chicken leg quarters, and rotisserie chicken salad. The products were sold directly to consumers in the Costco store between September 11, 2013, and September 23, 2013.

On October 17, 2013, Costco’s El Camino Real store recalled an additional 14,093 units of rotisserie chicken products that may be contaminated with Salmonella Heidelberg. This was in addition to the 9,043 units that were recalled on October 12, 2013. The products subject to recall included 13,455 “Kirkland Signature Foster Farms” rotisserie chickens and 638 total units of “Kirkland Farm” rotisserie chicken soup, rotisserie chicken leg quarters, and rotisserie chicken salad. The products were sold directly to consumers in the Costco store between September 24, 2013 and October 15, 2013. Costco and the California Department of Public Health discovered through a follow-up investigation to the previous recall that additional product should be recalled. No illnesses were reported in association with the product recalled on October 17, 2013.

According to USDA-FSIS, the problem with possibly contaminated rotisserie chicken products at this Costco location may have been the result of cross-contamination after the cooking process in the preparation area.

On July 3, 2014, Foster Farms recalled an undetermined amount of chicken products that may be contaminated with a particular strain of Salmonella Heidelberg. The recall resulted from USDA-FSIS identifying one of the outbreak strains of Salmonella Heidelberg in an intact sample of Foster Farms brand chicken collected from the home of a person in California infected with the same strain. The chicken breasts were packaged with critical labeling information to associate the product with the establishment and a specific production date.  The ill person’s family purchased their chicken in March; however, it was stored in the family’s freezer and consumed in late April.

Advice to Consumers

The current outbreak appears to be over as the number of reported infections has returned to the expected number for this time of year. It is not unusual for raw poultry from any producer to have Salmonella bacteria.

CDC and USDA-FSIS recommend all consumers and retailers follow these food safety tips to prevent Salmonella infection from raw poultry from any producer:

  • Clean
    • Wash hands with warm soapy water for 20 seconds before and after handling raw meat, poultry or seafood.
    • Wash utensils, cutting boards, dishes, and countertops with hot soapy water after preparing each food item and before you go on to prepare the next item.
    • Washing raw poultry before cooking it is not recommended. Bacteria in raw poultry juices can be spread to other foods, utensils, and surfaces.
    • Food contact surfaces may be sanitized with a freshly made solution of 1 tablespoon of unscented, liquid chlorine bleach in 1 gallon of water.
    • Clean reusable grocery bags often and always put raw meat and poultry into a disposable plastic bag before putting them in a reusable bag.
  • Separate
    • Separate raw meat, poultry, and seafood from other foods in your grocery shopping cart and in your refrigerator.
    • If possible, use one cutting board for fresh produce and a separate one for raw meat, poultry, and seafood.
    • Never place cooked food on a plate that previously held raw meat, poultry, or seafood.
  • Cook
    • Cook poultry to a safe minimum internal temperature of 165°F as measured with a food thermometer.
    • Retailers should hold cooked poultry to a safe minimum internal temperature of 165°F or higher as measured with a food thermometer.
  • Chill
    • Chill food promptly and properly. Refrigerate or freeze perishables, prepared foods, and leftovers within 2 hours (or 1 hour if temperatures are above 90°F).

Contact your health care provider if you think you may have become ill from eating contaminated food.

  • Symptoms of Salmonella infection include:
    • Diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps 12 to 72 hours after infection.
    • The illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days, and most persons recover without treatment.
    • See Signs & Symptoms for more information.
  • Children younger than 5 years, older adults, and people with weakened immune systems are more likely to have a severe illness from Salmonella infection.

Although recalled Foster Farms brand chicken products have production dates in March 2014, USDA-FSIS and CDC are concerned that the recalled chicken could still be in people’s freezers.
Consumers should check their freezers for recalled Foster Farms brand chicken products and should not eat them.

  • The recalled chicken products were produced on March 7 through March 13, 2014.
  • The recalled chicken products were sold under Foster Farms or private label brand names, with varying “use or freeze by” dates ranging from March 16 through March 31, 2014 and August 29, 2015 through September 2, 2015, and frozen Sunland Chicken products with “best by” dates from March 7 through March 13, 2015 and August 29, 2015 through September 2, 2015.
  • The recalled chicken products have the establishment number “P6137,” P6137A” or “P7632” inside the USDA mark of inspection on the packaging.
  • These products were shipped to Costco, Foodmaxx, Kroger, Safeway and other retail stores and distribution centers in Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Nevada, Oklahoma, Oregon, Utah, and Washington.
  • The list of products subject to recall can be accessed here.

What to do if you have any of the recalled chicken products in your freezer:

  • Throw away the chicken.
  • Even if some of the chicken has been eaten without anyone becoming ill, the rest of the product should be thrown away.
    • This is especially important for children under the age of 5 years, older adults, and people with weakened immune systems.
  • Persons who think they might have become ill from eating the recalled products should talk to their health care providers.
    • Symptoms include
      • Diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps 12 to 72 hours after infection.
      • The illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days, and most persons recover without treatment.
      • See Signs and Symptoms for more information.

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