We share the concerns over the recent reports of salmonella illness connected to poultry and wish to convey our empathy for the people who have contracted illness and their families.
Food safety is a primary concern of California food producers and for California government as it works with food producers to provide a wholesome, nutritious and safe food supply for all people. All of agriculture and the food-supply chain have a responsibility to protect people from food-borne illness, and I am determined to do all I can as secretary to accomplish that to the best of our ability. The key is a commitment to continual improvement. We have that in California.
The California Department of Public Health (CDPH), which has jurisdiction over food recalls, has not requested Foster Farms to recall chickens because, with proper handling and preparation, CDPH says the product is safe for consumption. A key message for consumers is that they should follow safe food-handling practices with raw poultry, as it is a raw animal protein that is expected to have some level of naturally-occurring bacteria present. It is important to understand that cooking chicken fully to 165 degrees Fahrenheit will kill the bacteria that are present. According to Dr. Ron Chapman, director of CDPH, chicken is safe to consume as long as consumers follow that guideline and do not cross-contaminate fully cooked chicken with raw chicken juices.
The illnesses being investigated by CDPH, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the USDA have been detected over a seven-month period. These agencies are working with Foster Farms to ensure proper manufacturing processes, and to ensure proper interventions are in place to reduce the presence of naturally-occurring bacteria. Additionally, Foster Farms is continually working to implement improved processes to reduce the presence of bacteria.