The USDA issued a health alert Monday warning consumers to avoid raw chicken from the three facilities after they detected strains of Salmonella Heidelberg, a strain that has been linked to human illness.
CDC, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also said that people in 18 states had become ill after eating Foster Farms poultry and 42 percent of the sick people were hospitalized. (This is a very high rate)
Salmonella does not trigger an automatic recall like some forms of E. coli because it’s not deemed an adulterant. Unfortunately, the USDA considers salmonella a naturally occurring bacteria that can be mitigated with proper cooking and handling (which does not happen in many cases). The bacteria grows in animals’ intestinal tracts and is spread through feces. It can contaminate a chicken farm through water, feed, birds and rodents. When infected chicken waste dries, salmonella can spread through dust. For years the poultry industry has used antibiotics to promote faster growth in animals. But the trend has alarmed food-safety advocates, who worry that overuse is leading to human resistance to certain types of these drugs.
Some members of the population — toddlers, elderly, people with immune systems weakened by various medical treatments — are more vulnerable than others. Children are the most likely to get salmonellosis.
What causes salmonellosis?
You can get salmonellosis by eating food contaminated with salmonella. This can happen in the following ways:
· Food may be contaminated during food processing or handling.
· Food may become contaminated by the unwashed hands of an infected food handler especially after using the bathroom.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms of salmonellosis include diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps. They develop 12 to 72 hours after infection, and the illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days. Diarrhea and dehydration may be so severe that it is requires hospitilization. The only way to confirm it is via a stool culture and blood tests.
What can you do?
Avoid meat if you can. Do not eat raw or undercooked eggs.
If not, the chicken in question can be identified in supermarkets with USDA marks of inspection P6137, P6137A or P7632.
Cook chicken to at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit to kill the salmonella.
Frequently hand wash and the use of separate cutting boards for meat and poultry. Avoid cross-contamination of food. Keep uncooked meats separate from produce, cooked foods, and ready-to-eat foods. Thoroughly wash hands, cutting boards, counters, knives, and other utensils after handling uncooked foods.
Do not prepare food or pour water for others when you have salmonellosis.
To Learn more read: http://www.cdc.gov/salmonella/general/index.html
Source: multiple including CDC, seattletimes, Webmd,