Utah Department of Agriculture and Food

FAQ on Chicken Salmonella Outbreak

Salmonella Outbreak Linked to Chicken Products Produced at Three Foster Farms Facilities

Q: When did FSIS first learn of the Salmonella outbreak?

On June 28, FSIS was notified of a Salmonella outbreak in four states resulting in 18 illnesses.

Q: What was FSIS’ first course of action when the agency learned of the outbreak?

At that time, FSIS began its own investigation, following up on specific information provided via case-patient interviews or shopper card data provided, which indicated a likely association between illnesses and patients’ exposure to products produced by three Foster Farms establishments located in California.  In September, FSIS began intensified testing of raw chicken products at the three Foster Farms plants.  By the beginning of October, FSIS had completed the testing of virtually all samples taken as part of the investigation.

Q: What actions were taken beyond the initial investigation and the intensified testing?

On October 7, 2013, FSIS issued a Public Health Alert and a Notice of Intended Enforcement Action and thereby took an affirmative step to address Foster Farms' process for preparing product.  Taken together, these actions represented the most effective course of action based on the available facts. In response to FSIS action, Foster Farms initiated a corrective action plan and will continue to implement additional food safety measures in the coming weeks. As Foster Farms continues production, FSIS will monitor their interventions and actions through intensified testing to ensure compliance.

Q: What is the difference between a Recall and a Public Health Alert?

A recall is a company’s action to remove product from commerce to protect the public from consuming adulterated or misbranded products. Although it is a firm’s decision to recall product, FSIS coordinates with the firm to ensure the firm has properly identified, and then removed, the recalled product from commerce.  FSIS also verifies the effectiveness of the company’s  recall activities. FSIS also notifies the public about product recalls by, in most instances, issuing a press release.

A Public Health Alert is used in situations where FSIS personnel have reason to believe that a meat or poultry product may be associated with human illnesses, but they cannot identify a specific product that is linked to the illnesses.

When public health is threatened by meat or poultry products, FSIS has an obligation to act in a manner that is consistent with the evidence before it.  In this case, FSIS did not have the evidence to make a legal case for a recall of product produced by Foster Farms. With the evidence at hand, FSIS acted to inform consumers through the issuance of a Public Health Alert.


Read more here: USDA