First reported infections of 944 cases in 58 states after chickens purchased from a Jackson, Mississippi farm show signs of contamination
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has identified a potential source for a salmonella outbreak that has been linked to imported chicken.
According to a CDC statement the US Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has confirmed the presence of salmonella in chickens bought from HanesBrands Poultry, a Jackson, Mississippi farm. The outbreak is more than twice as large as the 2014 salmonella outbreak linked to cantaloupe.
Since October 2018, the CDC has been notified of 944 cases of salmonella illness in 58 states, mostly in the north-eastern region. Of those, 407 (51%) people were hospitalized, but there have been no deaths.
The agency first received a tip from the Minnesota Public Health Department (MPLD) that HanesBrands was selling suspect chickens in November. The CDC followed up with an investigation, resulting in information indicating the presence of salmonella in the birds and the processing of carcasses at HanesBrands.
With a sample tested and identified as salmonella E 21, the FDA/USCFS processed additional samples in early December and found the exact same strain in four samples of birds, all products of HanesBrands.
CDC laboratory analysis found the contamination in chicken stored in HanesBrands’ central processing facility as well as on live birds that were held for slaughter. Further testing also showed that one species of salmonella bacteria, O157:H7, was present in carcasses and live birds.
Though the farms supplied HanesBrands with chickens were not identified in the CDC report, the company has acknowledged that the supplies come from farms in Arkansas, Illinois, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Texas, and Tennessee.
The USDA cited a document on HanesBrands’ website that identified Arkansas, Illinois, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, and Tennessee as the source states.
Farm Officials believe contaminated poultry may have gone from the chicken farms through an aggregator of turkeys or dairy farms.
In an article published on the USDA’s website on Friday, HanesBrands said it takes food safety and handling of its products “very seriously” and has been working closely with the USDA and the CDC.
“HanesBrands has increased audits and random sampling at many of its suppliers, including HanesBrands facilities,” according to the article. “The activities include high-quality visual inspections, detailed inspections, and bacteriological and other tests.”
The company has advised that it is working with FSIS on best practices, sanitary standards and handling methods and the importance of testing all products for Salmonella.
“These steps will ensure that HanesBrands chicken is safe to eat and that its customers’ chicken products remain safe to eat,” the article said.
The CDC and the USDA have also advised consumers to avoid poultry if they’ve never had the illness, especially those with a history of salmonella.
“Do not eat or serve chicken with eyes white, sore, or stained,” the CDC said. “Instead, wash hands with soap and water prior to and after handling raw poultry.”