Chicken Alert Issued After 278 Get Sick

The U.S. Department of Agriculture issued an alert for raw chicken after 278 people became ill.

The alert is for chicken from three Foster Farms facilities in Fresno and Livingston due to a Salmonella outbreak.

Authorities say the strain of Salmonella Heidelberg is associated with distributions in California, Oregon and Washington.

The outbreak has been traced to 18 states but most of those who got sick are in California.

A spokesman for Foster Farms says no recall is in effect and that the infections were caused by eating undercooked or improperly handled chicken.{} "The FSIS alert is limited to raw chicken and there is no recall in effect. Foster Farms raw chicken products are safe and present no risk when safe food handling and cooking practices are followed."The USDA has not directly linked the outbreak of illnesses to a specific product or production period. The USDA mark on suspect packages would read: P6137, P6137A and P7632.Cooking chicken to 165-degrees kills the Salmonella bacteria.