Foster Farms will reopen its Livingston chicken processing plant tomorrow morning, three days after the U.S. Department of Agriculture shuttered the facility due to an infestation of cockroaches.
USDA inspectors observed a cockroach during plant operations Wednesday morning, leading to an immediate closure of the facility for sanitization and treatment. The plant had been cited five times since September for roaches, with some contacting a plastic tub that came into contact with chicken.
According to Foster Farms, the USDA Food Safety Inspection Services has approved of the sanitization and treatment measures undertaken since the closure, allowing the facility to resume production. All employees will be called back to work tomorrow.
“We want to assure our consumers, customers and valued employees that we worked diligently to address and resolve this issue,” Foster Farms said in a statement. “Our efforts included developing a comprehensive preventative plan with full documentation that received USDA-FSIS approval.”
Cockroaches are known to carry salmonella – a bacteria which can cause a common foodbourne illness. The infection can be life-threatening to those with weak immune systems, but most are affected with diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever within eight to 72 hours of consumption.
A 2013 outbreak of salmonella was traced back to chicken processed at three Foster Farms facilities – two in Fresno, and the Livingston facility. As of Dec. 19, the Center for Disease Control traced 416 cases of salmonella infection to the tainted chicken. No deaths have been reported, but 39 percent of those ill were hospitalized.
The USDA threatened to close the Foster Farms plants following the salmonella outbreak, but held off after Foster Farms implemented a new food safety program in October.
No other plants were affected by the shutdown of the Livingston plant, and no products were affected, Foster Farms said. All production was shifted to other California plants during the closure.
Foster Farms reiterated its commitment to food safety on Friday, noting a strong history of excellence dating back to 1939.
“Foster Farms was founded on a commitment to excellence, honesty, quality and service,” said Foster Farms President Ron Foster. “We have devoted our fullest efforts to resolve this issue. As a company, Foster Farms will emerge stronger and with a continued commitment to quality.”
Foster Farms also operates a turkey processing facility in Turlock. That facility has been unaffected.