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USDA under fire for salmonella: California Costco issues chicken recall

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Rotisserie chicken recalled by Costco tests positive for salmonella

One Costco in the San Francisco Bay area has recalled Foster Farm chickens after one of the cooked birds at the retailer tested positive for salmonella.

Online sources report rotisserie chickens from Costco in California could be responsible for 18 to 20 infections.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) said that Costco's El Camino Real store in San Francisco, Calif., was pulling nearly 40,000 pounds of rotisserie chickens and products over Salmonella contamination in a statement issued yesterday.

Among the recalls are almost 8,800 Kirkland Signature Foster Farms rotisserie chickens.

More than 310 units of Kirkland Farm rotisserie chicken soup, rotisserie chicken leg quarters and rotisserie chicken salad have also been recalled.

In the meantime, the USDA is under fire from Consumer Reports for not closing Foster Farms plants.

Urvashi Rangan, executive director of Consumer Reports Food Safety and Sustainability Center told the Los Angeles Times:

“It is outrageous that Foster Farms has not issued a recall in the face of so many illnesses associated with their product.”

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The USDA has continued to maintain the chicken is safe to eat as long as it is cooked to the recommended 165 degrees. We know chicken has salmonella in it, based on independent studies from Consumer Reports in the past.

More than 300 people in 20 states including Puerto Rico have now been sickened by salmonella.

Consumer Reports is also warning that Kirkland Signature, Ralphs, and Safeway Farms chickens are also unsafe. The group reported yesterday that they found a dangerous salmonella strain linked to the outbreak as part of their ongoing tests.

“Consumer Reports typically doesn’t report findings from an individual test, but the connection of the sample to the current outbreak prompted us to make this information public,” says Urvashi Rangan, Ph.D., who is a toxicologist.

Rangan said as of yesterday, Kroger was the only grocery retailer removing chickens processed at the implicated plants that included Fred Meyer, Fry’s, King Soopers/City Market, Ralphs, Food 4 Less (West Coast), Smith’s (southern Nevada and New Mexico), and QFC.

Foster Farms has not voluntarily recalled their chicken, telling consumers to make sure the products are cooked thoroughly. The strains apparently aren't being eradicated with cooking.

The Costco chickens recalled were fully cooked.

Salmonella was detected in the cooked chickens by California health officials who went to the homes of those sickened to retrieve rotisserie chicken carcasses for testing and then alerted Costco of their findings.

Consumer Reports is calling for action from the USDA; asking them to recall chickens processed at Foster Farms plant P-6137A and two others, classify the meat as "adulterated" and mandate a recall.

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