Two confirmed cases of salmonella-related illness in San Benito County have prompted the county public health department to issue a statement encouraging consumers to handle raw chicken properly. Here is the statement from the department, which comes after Foster Farms initiated a recall on some of its products:
Foster Farms is recalling an undetermined amount of chicken products that may be contaminated with a particular strain of Salmonella Heidelberg, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced July 4, 2014. FSIS requested Foster Farms conduct this recall because this product is known to be associated with a specific illness. Currently there are two confirmed cased of Salmonella Heidelberg in San Benito County.
The recalled product includes fresh chicken products sold by retailers under Foster Farms or private label brand names, with varying “use or freeze by” dates ranging from March 16 through March 31, 2014, and frozen Sunland Chicken products with “best by” dates from March 7 through March 11, 2015. The products subject to recall bear the establishment number “P6137,” P6137A” or “P7632” inside the USDA mark of inspection. The chicken products were produced from March 7 through March 13, 2014. These products were shipped to Costco, Food Maxx, Kroger, Safeway and other retail stores and distribution centers in Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Nevada, Oklahoma, Oregon, Utah and Washington. The list of products subject to recall can be accessed at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/recalls. The list will continue to be updated as more information is available. The public needs to be aware that the products are most likely no longer available for purchase, but may be in consumers’ freezers.
Consumption of food contaminated with Salmonella can cause salmonellosis, one of the most common bacterial foodborne illnesses. The most common symptoms of salmonellosis are diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever within 12 to 72 hours after eating the contaminated product. The illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days. Most people recover without treatment. In some persons, however, the diarrhea may be so severe that the patient needs to be hospitalized. Older adults, infants, and persons with weakened immune systems are more likely to develop a severe illness. Individuals concerned about an illness should contact their health care provider. Additional information about the illness outbreak may be found on CDC’s website at http://www.cdc.gov.
Public Health, along with FSIS, reminds consumers to properly handle raw poultry in a manner to prevent contamination from spreading to other foods and food contact surfaces. We further remind consumers of the critical importance of following package cooking instructions for frozen or fresh chicken products and general food safety guidelines when handling and preparing any raw meat or poultry. In particular, while cooking instructions may give a specific number of minutes of cooking for each side of the product in order to attain an 165 °F internal temperature, consumers should be aware that actual time may vary depending on the cooking method (broiling, frying or grilling) and the temperature of the product (chilled versus frozen), so it is important that the final temperature of 165 °F must be reached for safety. Do not rely on the cooking time for each side of the product, but use a food thermometer.
Consumers with food safety questions can “Ask Karen,” the FSIS virtual representative available 24 hours a day at AskKaren.gov or via smartphone at m.askkaren.gov. The toll-free USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) is available in English and Spanish and can be reached from l0 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Eastern Time) Monday through Friday. Recorded food safety messages are available 24 hours a day. The online Electronic Consumer Complaint Monitoring System can be accessed 24 hours a day at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/reportproblem. You may also contact the Public Health Department at (831) 637-5367.
PREPARING PRODUCT FOR SAFE CONSUMPTION
USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline
1-888-MPHOTLINE or visit
Wash hands with warm, soapy water for at least 20 seconds before and after handling raw meat and poultry. Wash cutting boards, dishes and utensils with hot, soapy water. Immediately clean spills.
Keep raw meat, fish and poultry away from other food that will not be cooked. Use separate cutting boards for raw meat, poultry and egg products and cooked foods.
Color is NOT a reliable indicator that meat has been cooked to a temperature high enough to kill harmful bacteria.
The only way to be sure the meat or poultry is cooked to a high enough temperature to kill harmful bacteria is to use a thermometer to measure the internal temperature.
– Fish: 145 °F
– Beef, pork, lamb chops/steaks/roasts: 145 °F with a 3-minute rest time
– ground meat: 160 °F
– poultry: 165 °F
– hot dogs: 160 °F or steaming hot
– Refrigerate raw meat and poultry within 2 hours after purchase or 1 hour if temperatures exceed 90 ºF. Refrigerate cooked meat and poultry within 2 hours after cooking.