With a good number of federal food and health inspectors sidelined due to the U.S. government shutdown, the public is being warned about salmonella infections associated with Foster Farms chicken.
The USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service, which has furloughed many of its workers, is warning that there was a public health alert, but the FSIS was unable to link hundreds of illnesses to specific products or production periods. However, it has warned the public to be on the lookout for the following establishment numbers inside a USDA mark of inspection:
The USDA alert and a Foster Farms statement both stressed the importance of safe food handling, saying that raw poultry needs to be cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degrees and that home cooks need to avoid cross contamination.
The contaminated chicken was produced at three Foster Farms facilities in central California.
Calls seeking comment from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which has nearly 70 percent of its staff furloughed, were not returned. According the CDC's website, "the agency may not be able to respond to inquiries until appropriations are enacted."