South San Francisco Costco recalls chicken products linked to Foster Farms salmonella outbreak

Justin Sullivan/Getty ImagesThe U.S. Department of Agriculture is threatening to shutter three Foster Farms chicken processing plants in California after nearly 300 people in 17 states have become sick due to an outbreak of salmonella.

Costco is recalling chicken products sold at a South San Francisco store last month in connection with a major outbreak of antibiotic resistant salmonella linked to Foster Farms chicken.

The products include rotisserie chickens, rotisserie chicken leg quarters, rotisserie chicken salad and rotisserie chicken soup sold at the store at 1600 El Camino Real between Sept. 11 and Sept. 23, the company said today.

The chicken products have been linked to an outbreak of antibiotic resistant salmonella Heidelberg reported earlier this week by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service, the company said.

Consumers are advised not to consume the products if they still have them and to discard or return any uneaten leftovers, the company said in a message for customers.

The salmonella outbreak has been linked to Foster Farms chicken distributed mainly to retailers in California, Oregon and Washington, and 73 percent of cases have been reported in California, according to the Centers for Disease Control and USDA.

As of Oct. 11, a total of 317 cases involving seven strains of salmonella Heidelberg had been reported across 20 states and Puerto Rico, the CDC reports.

Of those cases, 42 percent of those infected have been hospitalized, but no deaths have been reported, the CDC said.

Most reported cases occurred between March 1, 2013 and September 26, 2013, but more recent cases might not have been reported yet, CDC officials noted.

The USDA threatened to shut down the three Foster Farms plants linked to the outbreak. On Oct. 10, however, the company and health officials announced that the company would be allowed to continue operating, after it submitted plans to improve its operating procedures.

State public health officials did not ask Foster Farms to recall chickens because the meat is safe for consumption with proper handling and preparation, according to a statement from Dr. Ron Chapman, the director of the California Department of Public Health that was issued Wednesday.

“Chicken is a raw animal protein that is expected to have some level of naturally occurring bacteria present. Cooking chicken fully to 165 degrees Fahrenheit will kill the bacteria that are present. Provided that consumers do not cross-contaminate fully cooked chicken with raw chicken juices, it is safe to consume,” Dr. Chapman said in the statement.

The Centers for Disease Control has established a web page tracking the outbreak.

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