Food Safety Lawyer Bill Marler weighs in; commends company for finally taking action
Well-known poultry company Foster Farms announced late last Thursday that a recall has been issued for over one million pounds of contaminated chicken products. Epidemiologic, laboratory, and traceback investigations conducted by local, state, and federal officials indicate the consumption of Foster Farms brand chicken is the likely source of the outbreak of Salmonella Heidelberg infections.
Since February 2013, when the outbreak first began, 621 individuals have been infected with Salmonella Heidelberg after consuming the chicken products from the California poultry producer. The infected individuals have been identified from 29 states and Puerto Rico. Most of the ill persons (76%) have been reported from California. 36% of ill persons have been hospitalized, and no deaths have been reported.
The recalled chicken was sold in March of this year in nine Western states. Because the chicken was sold fresh, it is no longer a threat in stores, however “it could still be in consumer’s freezers,” said Ira Brill, the company’s director of communication. The chicken was sold in California, Hawaii, Washington, Arizona, Nevada, Idaho, Utah, Oregon, and Alaska.
Since the outbreak began over a year ago, Foster Farms has received an insurmountable amount of pressure from the public and food safety advocates across the country. In the statement announcing the recall, Foster Farms said it was done “in the fullest interest of food safety” and “regrets any illness associated with its products.”
Seattle food safety attorney Bill Marler, who is representing a California man allegedly sickened by the salmonella outbreak, has been following the outbreak since the beginning.
"There have been instances where responsible companies have recalled their products, even where they were not linked to a particular illness. Those recalls were voluntary, out of a concern to get the product off the market and help prevent people from becoming sick,” Bill said. “This is the first time Foster Farms has done a recall of its chicken products over salmonella – ever.”
In cases having to do with foodborne illness, the phrase “better late than never” is not always true. Bill hopes however that this recent recall by Foster Farms is the beginning of a more proactive approach to food safety from the company.
"I commend both Foster Farms and USDA's Food Safety Inspection Service for doing the right thing for food safety," said Bill. "Recalling product is both embarrassing and hard, but is the right thing to do for your customers."
Salmonella is transmitted by food, water, or surfaces that have been contaminated with the feces of an infected animal or person. Many animals carry Salmonella yet do not get sick. It can also be found in unpasteurized egg and milk products. It is commonly transmitted via the fecal-oral route, from one infected person to another. Symptoms (which develop 6 to 72 hours after infection) may be mild and a person can continue to carry Salmonella for weeks after symptoms have subsided.
The best ways to prevent the spread of this illness are to avoid preparing food for others while ill, thoroughly cooking meat and egg products, not consuming unpasteurized eggs and milk products, and washing hands, especially after using the bathroom and before handling or preparing food.
About Marler Clark
Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm, is the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of Salmonella outbreaks. The Salmonella lawyers of Marler Clark have represented thousands of victims of Salmonella and other foodborne illness outbreaks and have recovered over $600 million for clients. Marler Clark is the only law firm in the nation with a practice focused exclusively on foodborne illness litigation. Our Salmonella lawyers have litigated Salmonella cases stemming from outbreaks traced to a variety of foods, such as cantaloupe, tomatoes, ground turkey, salami, sprouts, cereal, peanut butter, and food served in restaurants. The law firm has brought Salmonella lawsuits against such companies as Cargill, ConAgra, Peanut Corporation of America, Sheetz, Taco Bell, Subway and Wal-Mart.
If you or a family member became ill with a Salmonella infection, including Reactive Arthritis or Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), after consuming food and you’re interested in pursuing a legal claim, contact the Marler Clark Salmonella attorneys for a free case evaluation.