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Chicken Identified as the Source of the Salmonella Outbreak

Update Date: Oct 08, 2013 03:22 PM EDT

The cause of the salmonella outbreak that affected 18 states has finally been identified. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), raw chicken that was packaged at three Foster Farms factories could have been contaminated. The USDA believes that the infection spread due to the fact that people did not cook their chicken thoroughly or they did not handle the raw meat properly. Foster Farms has not recalled its raw produce.

The USDA was notified of the outbreak in July, but the agency stated that the infection most likely started in March when strains of Salmonella Heidelberg were first detected. The infection affected around 278 people. The raw meat was shipped out to retail stores in California, Oregon and Washington. Even though it spread to people from 18 different states, the majority of the illnesses were in California. The report stated that the three facilities responsible are all based in California's central valley. Two of the factories are located in Fresno and one of them is in Livingston.

Despite the identification of these three facilities, the agency has stated that there is no clear link between the outbreak and any products made during specific production periods, which explains why there is no recall in effect. However, if people are concern, the labels that indicate the raw meat came from these three locations are P6137, P6137A and P7632. Foster Farms has started working with USDA inspectors and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to control this outbreak.

"This is the important public health issue," Anita Gore, spokeswoman for the California Department of Public Health said according to the Associated Press. "Chicken can carry bacteria, and chicken needs to be fully cooked."

Health officials recommend that all people cook their chicken to 165 degrees Fahrenheit. They also remind people to remember to wash their hands after touching raw meat. Symptoms of a Salmonella infection include diarrhea, ramps and fever usually within eight to 72 hours after eating. For some people, more severe symptoms, such as chills, nausea and vomiting might manifest. It is extremely important to seek medical care immediately once these symptoms show up.

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