The National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) has released five years worth of USDA noncompliance reports filed about violations at all of Foster Farms facilities.
In total, the organization released 300 pages of noncompliance reports –100 of which were issued just in 2014. The NRDC was able to obtain the detailed reports through the Freedom of Information Act.
“[W]ith Foster Farms being under the government’s microscope since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) blamed it for the much-publicized outbreak of drug-resistant Salmonella, the story told by the data is surprising,” reports Food Safety News, “the two Foster Farms plants in California which CDC linked to the antibiotic-resistant Salmonella outbreak have racked up 200 separate violations during the period.”
The NRDC has been using the salmonella outbreak traced back to Foster Farms along with the violations in efforts to pressure the company to revisit its antibiotic use and limit it to therapeutic dosages rather than for growth enhancement. For more than a year—between March 2013 to July 2014—a drug-resistant salmonella outbreak was linked to Foster Farms’ California facilities. It sickened more than 600 people, with close to 40 percent requiring hospitalization.
In a statement, the NRDC noted “the pattern of violations at Foster Farm plants doesn’t leave us feeling warm and fuzzy about the company’s commitment to protecting public health.” The group said that a violation was occurring once every other day between October 2013 and March 2014.
According to the noncompliance reports obtained by the NRDC, Foster Farms facilities’ violations included “mold growth, cockroaches, an instance of pooling caused by a skin-clogged floor drain, fecal matter and ‘Unidentified Foreign Material’ (which has it own acronym, UFM) on chicken carcasses, failure to implement required tests and sampling, metal pieces found in carcasses, and many more.”
“We would have expected that improved sanitation would be a top priority at Foster Farms at the height of the Salmonella outbreak, yet its slaughter and processing plant in Livingston, CA, was cited 154 times in the weeks and months after October 7, 2013, when USDA issued a public health alert about Foster Farms chicken,” said the NRDC. “NRDC will continue to press for meaningful oversight of livestock antibiotics by the Food and Drug Administration,” the group said, with petitions submitted to U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals to reconsider its July decision, split 2-to-1, that “allows FDA to continue to refuse to withdraw approvals of livestock antibiotics despite the agency’s finding that these uses threaten the effectiveness of essential human medicines.“
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