(WASHINGTON) — A California poultry farm at the center of a salmonella outbreak that has sickened nearly 300 people in 18 states has until Thursday to come up with a plan to improve food safety or federal inspectors will effectively shut it down.
The United States Department of Agriculture sent a letter to Foster Farms in Fresno, Calif., on Oct. 7, explaining that 25.33 percent of the farm’s poultry tested positive for salmonella, and many of those salmonella strains matched the recent outbreak.
USDA inspectors ultimately concluded that Foster Farms’ food safety system was inadequate and said if the farm didn’t respond to the USDA with a plan to address the problems within three business days, the USDA would either refuse to inspect its products or mark them as “adulterated.”
During their investigation, food safety inspectors found that Foster Farms had “poor sanitary dressing practices,” unsanitary surfaces and “direct product contamination,” according to the letter.
Inspectors also discovered that the farm has had 12 noncompliance records for “findings of fecal material on carcasses” since January 2013.
Foster Farms issued a statement yesterday to assure consumers that it is cooperating with the USDA “despite the challenges of working with the federal government during the shutdown.” It also said it has not recalled its poultry, but has implemented additional safety measures over the last several months.
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