A major outbreak of salmonella poisoning that sickened nearly 300 people received widespread publicity last week as it was traced back to contaminated Foster Farms chicken — but this week industry experts say that the contamination extends beyond Foster Farms.
According to Consumer Reports, the three plants located in Central California that have been identified as the source of the outbreak also produce chicken under a variety of other brand names, some of them “house” brands at supermarket chains.
The brands named by Consumer Reports as coming out of the plants that produced tainted Foster Farms chicken are Eating Right, Kirkland Signature, O Organics, Open Nature, Ralphs, Safeway Farms, and Simple Truth Organic.
No matter what the brand name, chicken produced at a specific plant will bear the same serial number on its packaging.
The numbers of the three plants involved in the outbreak are P-6137, P-6137A and P-7632. They can be seen below the bar codes on chicken price tag labels — as seen in the picture at right.
Foster Farms has so far refused to issue a recall of the chicken, saying that the illnesses seen so far in the outbreak were caused by people who did not cook their chicken properly.
"That's outrageous," said Consumer Reports toxicologist Urvashi Rangan, quoted on the LA. Weekly newspaper blog. "We are calling on Foster Farms and the retail outlets that sell Foster Farms chicken to recall the chicken processed at these plants. How many illnesses will they wait for before taking action?"
Consumer Reports ran its own tests of Foster Farms chicken and in results published last week, found the a strain of salmonella virus in one sample that matches one of the strains implicated in the recent outbreak.
“Consumer Reports typically doesn’t report findings from an individual test, but the connection of the sample to the current outbreak prompted us to make this information public,” said Rangan.