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Congresswomen Call on USDA to Shut Down Foster Farms

08 July 2014

US - Two congresswomen have called on the United States Department of Agriculture to shut down all Foster Farms poultry processing facilities until a Salmonella outbreak that has made more than 600 people in 29 states sick is stopped.

The USDA announced Foster Farms had issued a voluntary recall for its chicken products last week - the first recall Foster Farms has issued related to this outbreak, which has been going on for over a year.

“Burying news late at night on a holiday weekend may be a time-honoured tradition by Washington spin doctors, but it is a shameful way to protect public health,” Congresswomen Rosa DeLauro and Louise Slaughter said.

“We have been saying for months that tainted chicken does not belong on the grocery stores shelves or the dinner tables of American families. How many more people will fall ill, or even be hospitalised, before USDA does the right thing and cracks down on companies that threaten our families’ health and safety?

“USDA will claim they do not have the authority to either issue a mandatory recall or shut down Foster Farms. We disagree, but have introduced the Pathogens Reduction and Testing Reform Act to ensure there is no confusion. This bill would allow USDA to prevent dangerous, antibiotic-resistant pathogens from ever getting to supermarkets in the first place. House leadership should take up this bill immediately before any more American consumers fall victim.”

The Pathogens Reduction and Testing Reform Act requires USDA to recall any meat, poultry, or egg product contaminated by pathogens associated with serious illness or death, or that are resistant to two or more critically important antibiotics for human medicine.

Over the past year, an outbreak of antibiotic-resistant Salmonella Heidelberg linked to chicken produced by Foster Farms has sickened at least 621 Americans, hospitalising almost 40 per cent of those infected. Salmonella Heidelberg is resistant to several commonly prescribed antibiotics, a trait that is associated with increased hospital admissions for infected individuals.

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