Foster Farms President Ron Foster said last week that the company was cooperating with the USDA and had put new food safety controls in place.
Salmonella outbreaks are nothing new for Foster Farms. Last year, many illnesses were reported in connection with another outbreak linked to a Foster Farms processing facility. During last year's outbreak, 134 people in 13 states were sickened with one of the same strains of salmonella that has made people ill in the current outbreak.
"There was one illness reported last year in West Virginia," Davidson said. "We are not exactly sure if that illness was directly related or if that individual had traveled to another state and became infected with the pathogen."
Salmonella is a pathogen that contaminates meat during slaughter and processing, and is common in raw chicken. Davidson said proper handling and cooking are key to avoiding illness.
"We want people to know that by cooking poultry at appropriate temperatures and handling meat properly will essentially eliminate the chances of being affected by the salmonella pathogen."
Davidson said state inspectors are the "boots on the ground" and are making sure all meat processing facilities and meat-cutting areas meet the standards of the state and federal governments.
"Our inspectors check the meats thoroughly and if one of them were to detect the salmonella pathogen, they would immediately contact the store manager and get those products pulled from the shelf," Davidson said. "We alert store managers of products that have been recalled or if there is any kind of outbreak they need to be aware of."
The contaminated chicken processed at the Foster Farms facility in California has not been recalled, but some grocery stores are taking it off their shelves anyway. Kroger Co. said it is taking some Foster Farms products from the shelves in certain stores and contacting customers who it knows may have purchased the products.
The federal government has been troubling to the government's response to food safety issues. While USDA's meat inspectors are on the job, the CDC has furloughed many employees who work to investigate outbreaks. However, the Associated Press reported the agency had recalled many of those workers last week to work on the salmonella outbreak.
Contact writer John Gibb at john.g...@dailymail.com or 304-348-1796.