Business

Foster Farms works to reopen California plant after roach shutdown

Thursday, January 09, 2014
Foster Farms chicken package This photo shows a Foster Farms processing plant on Thursday, Oct. 10, 2013, in Livingston, Calif. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

Foster Farms is responding after federal inspectors closed down a plant in Central California. Inspectors say they found cockroaches crawling inside on multiple occasions. The plant is located in Livingston, south of Modesto.

This is the second major incident for Foster Farms. This time the plant in question has been shut down but the product is still in the shelves and we found many consumers still buying it.

While the cleanup continues at a Foster Farms chicken plant south of Modesto, some Bay Area consumers seem largely unfazed by the latest health scare there.

In the past four months, the USDA inspectors found five cockroaches inside the Livingston processing plant.

"They just caught 'em," Alamo resident Jackie Gross said. "Check all the other places. I'm sure they have cockroaches and other things. It's pretty hard to keep 'em out, but I think, you know, you have to have continuous vigilance."

When asked if she will still buy Foster Farms, shopper Lynette Torretta said, "I just did today. I did. I bought some chicken tenders, Foster Farms. I stuck 'em in my freezer."

The latest incident comes just four months after the same plant and two others were linked to a salmonella outbreak. Then, all three Foster Farms plants were allowed to stay open.

On Wednesday the company issued a statement saying that food safety is "its highest priority" and shut down the Livingston facility immediately for "sanitation and treatment" for the incidents dating back to September.

They went on to say, "No other facilities are affected. No products are affected. Product production has been transferred to the company's other facilities."

Food safety experts say the cockroach issue is relatively minor if the chicken is handled properly by the consumer.

"This relates to, you know, cockroaches, but the issue really is the chicken," said Dr. Jur Strobos with UC Berkeley's School of Public Health. "When you purchase chicken or cook chicken, you need to make sure the chicken is completely cooked."

"If you have it and you're a little bit worried, but you're still going to eat it, make sure you cook it all the way through," said Joel Corcoran with Lawrences' Meats. "Get it to 165, use a meat thermometer. Make sure it's done."

Foster Farms' problems have already cost the company big money. The company's CEO said in October that the salmonella outbreak caused sales to drop about 25 percent; they normally are about $2.3 billion a year.

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food, centers for disease control, fresno, costco, central valley, business, laura anthony
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