Federal inspectors have halted processing at a Foster Farms processing plant in Livingston, Calif., after the plant was found to have been infested with cockroaches four times over the last five months. The plant was one of three Foster Farms plants in California linked to an outbreak of antibiotic-resistant Salmonella, which has sickened 416 people to date, reports USA Today.

The Oregonianwas the first newspaper to obtain the notice of suspension, which the Food Safety and Inspection Service sent to Foster Farms CEO Ron Foster this week. The letter read, in part:

“This action is initiated based on egregious insanitary conditions observed in your establishment whereby products produced at your facility may have been rendered adulterated in violation of the Poultry Products Inspection Act (PPIA) 21 U.S.C. 453 and 456, and the regulations promulgated there under, specifically Title 9 CFR 416. This is evidenced by findings of an infestation of live cockroaches in and around your production areas, that created insanitary conditions, and demonstrate that your firm failed to maintain an effective pest control program and other sanitary controls to assure that wholesome, unadulterated meat and poultry products are produced at your facility.”

The letter documented instances of cockroaches on Sept. 14, Nov. 4, Dec. 28, 2013, and January 7, 2014.

“The suspension will remain in effect until such time as you provide adequate written assurances of corrective and preventive measures to assure that meat and poultry products will be produced under sanitary conditions in accordance with the Poultry Products Inspection Act and the regulations promulgated there under,” the letter stated.

Foster Farms issued a statement noting that the facility was immediately closed after the discovery of the most recent cockroach and was sanitized. The company added that FSIS has noted five cockroaches in the 250,000 square-foot-facility since September 2013.

“Today's treatment is expected to fully resolve this incident. No products are affected. Product production has been transferred to the company's other facilities,” the statement read. “The company aggressively addressed each instance to the full satisfaction of the FSIS. A single incident is not acceptable, and we are committed to a zero tolerance policy.

“Foster Farms is working in cooperation with the USDA-FSIS to monitor and further reduce Salmonella levels at all stages of production. A series of new, multi-step processes for salmonella control have been developed by the company with the input of national food safety experts. The company is leading a specialized U.S. poultry industry working group dedicated to further reducing Salmonella during the second stage of processing. Foster Farms has formed a Food Safety Advisory Board comprised of leading national food safety experts to validate best practices, evaluate emerging technologies and to help guide the company's food safety systems on an ongoing basis."

Source: Foster Farms