Foster Farms Reacts to Mexican Export Ban

Foster Farms is reacting to reports that Mexico is no longer accepting some of its imports after three of its plants, based in the Central Valley, were linked to a recent Salmonella outbreak.

The Los Angeles Times reports that the Mexican government removed two plants in Fresno, and one in Livingston, from its list of approved exporters this week.

In a statement, Foster Farms writes, "we are working with U.S. and Mexican authorities to fully resolve concerns and to demonstrate the safety of our chicken products, as with all raw chicken, when properly handled and cooked."

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety Inspection service has been investigating reports of salmonella since June. In that time, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports 338 people have gotten sick in 20 states and Puerto Rico.

No deaths have been reported.

The U.S.D.A. carried out tests in September, and within weeks, completed tests on all samples.

In that time, Foster Farms has not recalled any of its poultryand it has not been obligated to do so, because investigators have not tied the outbreak to a specific product or lot.

Instead, Foster Farms has encouraged customers to follow package cooking instructions and general food safety guidelines when handling and preparing any raw meat or poultry.

The U.S.D.A. had threatened to shut down the three plants in question if Foster Farms did not prove it made significant changes to prevent an outbreak again. But the plants stayed open after Foster Farms put a series of 23 new procedures in place.

Foster Farms adds: {}"We have drawn upon the best advice, the best technology and the best efforts of our employees to develop these new programs, which have already proven effective at further reducing Salmonella."

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, symptoms of salmonella poisoning include diarrhea, cramps and fever. These can start eight to 72 hours after eating food with high levels of the bacteria. Symptoms can last up to seven days.

Of those who have gotten sick, the CDC reports 40% have been hospitalized. Most of those who have gotten sick (75%) are in California.