So far, nearly 300 people across 18 states have fallen ill over the last few months due to Salmonella contaminated chicken, as this Oct. 8 Hawaii News Now story makes clear. While most of those who’ve fallen ill were in California, one became sick here in Hawaii.
According to an Oct. 7, 2013 public health alert from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the chicken came from Foster Farms:
“The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is issuing a public health alert due to concerns that illness caused by strains of Salmonella Heidelberg are associated with raw chicken products produced by Foster Farms at three facilities in California.”
The public health alert says that the raw Foster Farms chicken products “in question” contain the following establishment numbers:
So far, the USDA has not issued a recall of the chicken. Instead, their public health alert warns consumers to be careful when handling and preparing all chicken:
“FSIS reminds consumers to properly handle raw poultry in a manner to prevent contamination from spreading to other foods and food contact surfaces.
“FSIS further reminds consumers of the critical importance of following package cooking instructions for frozen or fresh chicken products and general food safety guidelines when handling and preparing any raw meat or poultry. In particular, while cooking instructions may give a specific number of minutes of cooking for each side of the product in order to attain 165 °F internal temperature, consumers should be aware that actual time may vary depending on the cooking method (broiling, frying, or grilling) and the temperature of the product (chilled versus frozen) so it is important that the final temperature of 165 °F must be reached for safety. Please do not rely on the cooking time for each side of the product, but use a food thermometer.”
As you can see from the photo (which I took this morning) it certainly appears that the Maui Lani Safeway is fire-selling the Foster Farms chicken mentioned in the USDA public health alert at ridiculously low prices ($1.49 a pound?!). I got a call yesterday from a particularly alert reader who discovered that the chicken being fire-sold matched the public health alert.
But Maui Lani Safeway store Manager Robin Truxal refused to comment for this story, instead referring me to Safeway’s Hawaii district office. They also refused to comment, but told me to contact Keith Turner, Safeway’s corporate director of public affairs in San Francisco.
According to Turner, Safeway is still selling the chicken because the USDA hasn’t issued a formal recall.
“There has not been a recall on this product,” Turner wrote in an email response to my inquiry. “Safeway will readily accept any returns from our customers on any Foster Farms Fresh Chicken or Fresh Safeway Farms or Eating Right Fresh Chicken. It is important to note that this is a public alert only and neither a recall nor a withdrawal.”