California Costco Recalls 40,000 Pounds of Chicken Following Salmonella Illness

costco_chicken_recallA California Costco store has recalled 40,000 pounds of chicken following an illness associated with Salmonella Heidelberg and contaminated chicken.

The South San Francisco, California Costco recalled rotisserie chicken and chicken products that might be contaminated with Salmonella Heidelberg in connection with the Foster Farms outbreak, according to The Huffington Post. The recall includes 8,730 “Kirkland Signature Foster Farms” rotisserie chickens and 313 total units of “Kirkland Farm” rotisserie chicken soup, rotisserie chicken leg quarters, and rotisserie chicken salad, HuffPost indicated. The recalled chicken products were sold between September 11 – 23.

One person became ill after eating a cooked rotisserie chicken from the San Francisco Costco, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) stated that consuming Salmonella-contaminated chicken is safe if the meat is cooked to an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Investigators have said they are not clear how the chicken became contaminated, according to the HuffPost. “It was well-cooked,” Costco Vice President of Food Safety, Craig Wilson, told the LA Times. “It may have been a very, very uncommon cross-contamination issue. We’re still researching.” Costco rotisserie chicken is cooked to at least 180 degrees Fahrenheit, Wilson noted.

This is the first United States recall associated with the antibiotic-resistant Salmonella outbreak that originated with three California Foster Farms poultry plants. To date, according to the HuffPost, this outbreak has sickened nearly 300 people in 18 states since March.

Costco has contacted over 7,800 customers who purchased one or more of the recalled chicken products, according to Wilson, The LA Times reported. Meanwhile, consumer advocates are calling for a mandatory recall of the potentially contaminated Foster Farms chicken; however, the USDA and Foster Farms say a mandatory recall is not necessary. The recalled chicken can be identified in supermarkets with USDA marks of inspection P6137, P6137A, or P7632. Last week, the USDA threatened to close the three Foster Farms plants until the company provided cleanup plans to the agency.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said Salmonella Heidelberg is particularly virulent and, sometimes, antibiotic resistant. The LA Times reported that the resistance is why there are twice as many hospitalizations being seen in this outbreak compared to other Salmonella poisoning outbreaks. Barbara Reynolds, a CDC spokeswoman, said that properly cooked chicken would not likely lead to Salmonella poisoning and that it is more likely that prepared foods would be undercooked.

Wilson said that one cause for the Costco-related Salmonella illness could be because the Costco warehouse, in which this Costco recall originated, roasts 1,000 chickens daily. Wilson described the number as extremely high when compared to other stores. “We have to figure out if there was a slip-up in procedures,” Wilson told The LA Times.

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