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October 14, 2013

USDA: Foster Farms plants in Livingston, Fresno to stay open

Foster Farms met a Thursday deadline to show progress against salmonella in its chicken, a federal official said, so its plant in Livingston and two others in Fresno will stay open.

The plants can keep operating as long as Foster Farms submits to increased sampling for pathogens for at least 90 days, said Aaron Lavallee, deputy assistant administrator for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service.

“Foster Farms has submitted and implemented immediate substantive changes to their slaughter and processing to allow for continued operations,” he said.

The FSIS had sent a letter Monday to Foster Farms seeking food safety changes after an outbreak that sickened an estimated 278 people in 18 states. Six cases were reported in Stanislaus County and two in San Joaquin County.

The agency gave the company 72 hours to take corrective action, or it would withdraw its inspectors. Poultry plants are not permitted to operate without USDA inspectors, who are considered essential government employees and have continued to work during the partial government shutdown.

Ron Foster, president and chief executive officer of Foster Farms, issued a statement Thursday saying the company will work hard on the improvements.

“We started this process more than two months ago and this officially validates our progress, but we are not stopping here,” he said. “We are putting every resource and all of our energy toward food safety with the confidence that Foster Farms plants will be the most stringent in the industry.” Read More

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