Foster Farms President Ron Foster has published a letter to the Foster Farms website, providing an overview of the Salmonella Heidelberg outbreak that has left hundreds of people ill over several states.
“Since October 11, Foster Farms has introduced 23 new Salmonella-control measures. We have drawn upon the best advice, the best technology and the best efforts of our employees to develop these new programs, which have proven effective,” the company said.
In the letter, available at http://www.fosterfarms.com/docs/Foster_Farms_Overview.pdf, Foster says that the company is “determined to significantly outperform the industry average for Salmonella incidence, which is approximately 25 percent for chicken parts. While there is no published government standard for this stage in poultry processing, we are aiming for five percent or less, which means Foster Farms would lead the industry in Salmonella control. Initial test results show significant progress toward meeting our goal.”
Foster details the process enhancements that the company has undertaken since being notified about the outbreak. The company has since implemented 23 new control measures specifically for Salmonella reduction, covering measures at the farms and hatcheries, in the processing plant and beyond. Those measures include:
- “We have added enhanced biosecurity procedures on all farms focusing on additional washing and disinfection steps that target key areas within the poultry houses, including equipment, hen nests, bedding material, egg belts and feed delivery systems.”
- "We have always conducted a four- to six-hour (depending on size of facility) sanitization process in our production facilities prior to the beginning of each shift. In fact, we cannot restart production without USDA certification of cleanliness.”
- Additional systems are being installed to maintain the sanitary condition of conveyor belts that transfer the product s from the processing equipment and in to finished packaging.
“Three rounds of marketplace testing since the implementation of our enhancements, conducted on Oct. 12, 15 and 21, 2013, show we already have brought the incidence rate for Salmonella significantly down after the second process, near our goal of five percent,” Foster said. “Foster Farms is committed to being a leader in food safety well into the future. We will continue to work with USDA, the industry and leading food safety and poultry experts to ensure our products are safe when properly handled and fully cooked.”
Source: Foster Farms