The Centers for Disease Control says the addition of more staff to analyze the backlog of Salmonella outbreak data is giving health officials a better idea of the extent of the latest cases linked to Foster Farms chicken produced in California.
Just before 5 p.m. East Coast Time on Friday, the Salmonella case count jumped from 278 people sick in 17 states to 317 people sick in 20 states and Puerto Rico. Hospitalizations remain 42 percent. No one has died.
Other noteworthy details can be found in copies of the 5-page enforcement letters the USDA sent to Foster Farms' 3 plants in California on October 7. The letters detail intensified salmonella verification testing at each of the California plants in question.
Testing was also done at a Foster Farms plant in Kelso, Washington which beefed up safety procedures following a salmonella outbreak linked to Foster Farms chicken last year. The USDA says only 2 samples at the Kelso plant confirmed positive for salmonella out of 150 samples taken in September- compared to 37 out of 150 samples in one Fresno plant, 38 out of 150 samples at the second Fresno plant, and 40 out of 150 samples taken at the plant in Livingston, California.
The USDA says the intensified testing will continue, with the goal of making sure corrective actions have been put in place. In the meantime the 3 plants California are still in operation and being monitored by inspectors as the company takes corrective action. In a prominent note on the Foster Farms website, president Ron Foster issues an apology- pledging to resolve the issues and work to ensure his family's products are wholesome and safe.
For now, the official advice to the public remains that Foster Farms chicken, as with all poultry is safe to eat- as long as you use proper care in handling and storage, avoid cross contamination and cook to an internal temperature of a 165 degrees.