SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Monday issued a public health alert for raw chicken packaged at three Foster Farms facilities in California as an estimated 278 people have fallen ill in the past six months.
Strains of Salmonella Heidelberg are associated with chicken distributed to retail outlets in California, Oregon and Washington state, the USDA said in a statement.
The Salmonella outbreak has spread to 18 states, though most of the reported illnesses have been in California.
The outbreak appears to have begun in March and the USDA was notified of the illnesses in July, said Dan Engeljohn of the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service. Investigators had a difficult time pinpointing the source of the illnesses, Englejohn said.
A spokesman for Foster Farms said no recall was in effect and that the infections were caused by eating chicken that was undercooked or improperly handled.