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Tuesday, October 8, 2013

There's a Salmonella Outbreak, We Have No Food Inspectors, NBD

Posted by Erik Henriksen on Tue, Oct 8, 2013 at 10:59 AM

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Good news for those of you who eat factory-farmed chicken! Wait, did I say good news? I meant terrible news!

A public health alert was issued for raw chicken packaged at three Foster Farms facilities in California as some 278 people have fallen ill since strains of Salmonella Heidelberg were first detected in March, the United States Department of Agriculture said in a statement Monday.

The strains were associated with chicken distributed to retail outlets in California, Oregon and Washington state, the USDA said. The illnesses have been predominantly in California but the salmonella has reached people from 18 states, the statement said. (Via.)

This is the second nationwide Salmonella outbreak linked this year to Foster Farms, a charming little multi-billion dollar company based in California, with regional branches in Corvallis and Kelso (they're also known for dumping 11 million gallons of chicken shit-infused water into a wildlife refuge). Foster Farms says that improperly cooking or handling the chicken is what's really at fault here; the USDA's advising you cook chicken to at least 165 degrees. But wait, here's the other fun part of that AP story:

The Centers for Disease Control, which monitors the microbes that signal multi-state outbreaks of food poisoning, was working with a barebones staff because of the federal government shutdown, with all but two of the 80 staffers that normally analyze foodborne pathogens furloughed. It was not immediately clear whether the shortage affected the response to the salmonella outbreak. (Via.)

As Maryn McKenna writes at Wired, "This is the exact situation that CDC and other about-to-be-furloughed federal personnel warned about last week."

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