At least two Salmonella serotype Heidelberg outbreaks were traced to Foster Farms brand chicken in 2013. The first Salmonella outbreak spanned part of 2012 and the early months of 2013. The second began in February of 2013 and lasted into 2014.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), at least 524 people from 25 states and Puerto Rico fell ill with several outbreak strains of Salmonella Heidelberg--some of which were antibiotic-resistant.
The outbreak was traced to Foster Farms brand chicken processed at California facilities. In fact, most Salmonella outbreak victims were from California.
The CDC stated:
Testing conducted by the Washington State Public Health Laboratories identified one of the outbreak strains of Salmonella Heidelberg in one leftover intact sample of raw Foster Farms chicken collected from an ill person's home in Washington.
Preliminary laboratory testing identified four of the seven outbreak strains from multiple chicken product samples at three Foster Farms facilities; additional analysis is ongoing. USDA-FSIS has issued a Public Health AlertExternal Web Site Icon due to concerns that illnesses caused by strains of Salmonella Heidelberg are associated with raw chicken products produced by Foster Farms at three facilities in California. At this point in the investigation, FSIS is unable to link the illnesses to a specific product and a specific production period. The products were mainly distributed to retail outlets in California, Oregon and Washington State. Raw products from the facilities in question bear one of the establishment numbers inside a USDA mark of inspection or elsewhere on the package "P6137," "P6137A," and "P7632."
Earlier Salmonella Outbreak: The First
The Washington Department of Health, Oregon Health Authority and the CDC announced that a multi-state Salmonella serotype Heidelberg outbreak had been traced to chicken produced by Foster Farms on February 14, 2013. According to the CDC, the Salmonella outbreak was ongoing between June of 2012 and April of 2013. During that time, at least 134 people from 13 states fell ill with Salmonella infections linked to the outbreak.
According to the Washington Department of Health, 57 people in Washington got sick due to a specific strain of Salmonella Heidelberg after eating chicken produced in Foster Farms plants in Washington and California. Fifteen people sickened in Washington were hospitalized. The Oregon Health Authority reported 40 Oregonians had become sick with Salmonella after eating the Foster Farms chickens.
Information about Salmonella outbreak victims in other states was unavailable from the CDC as of February 15, 2013, but in early March the agency listed all states that had reported Salmonella Heidelberg cases associated with the Foster Farms chicken outbreak: Alabama (1), Alaska (13), California (11), Hawaii (1), Idaho (2), Massachusetts (1), Montana (2), New York (1), Oregon (40), Utah (3), Virginia (1), Washington (57), and West Virginia (1).