Officials with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) suspended operations at a Foster Farms poultry plant due to a cockroach infestation resulting in contaminated food. According to a Los Angeles Times news report, the plant, which is located in Livingston, California, 25 miles southeast of Modesto, was one of three Foster Farms facilities linked to a salmonella outbreak that has sickened at least 416 people nationwide since last March. USDA inspectors wrote several noncompliance reports for unsanitary conditions at the plant and then took action to suspend the plant’s operations, officials said.
Unsanitary Conditions in Plants
Many of Foster Farms’ processing facilities were threatened with closure last October due to unsanitary conditions. The poultry producer then promised to clean up all its facilities and introduce measures to reduce instances of salmonella contamination. Once Foster Farms produced a new sanitation plan, federal officials allowed the plants to remain open.
Federal inspectors, however, could not force a recall of the Fosters Farms chicken because salmonella, unlike E. coli, is considered “naturally occurring and not an adulterant.” Foster Farms officials have called the latest roach infestation “an isolated incident” and have said that no other company plants were affected.
Responsibilities of Food Producers
All food manufacturers have a responsibility to maintain clean conditions in their production and processing facilities. Storing foods at proper temperatures, maintaining adequate refrigeration and making sure there is no cross contamination are just some of the steps manufacturers must take to ensure that their food products are safe for consumers.
Compensation for Victims
When a defective or contaminated food product causes food poisoning or food-borne illnesses, manufacturers, processors and even distributors can be held liable for the injuries and damages caused. Injured victims can seek compensation for damages such as medical expenses, lost wages, hospitalization, rehabilitation, pain and suffering and emotional distress.
If you have been affected by contaminated food, please make sure that you isolated the food and preserve it separately so that it can be tested in a laboratory for pathogens. It is important that you get tested and treated for your illness. Get prompt medical attention. Report your illness to the local healthcare agency, which will then document and track the cause of the illness. Victims would also be well advised to contact an experienced California personal injury lawyer who has successfully handled food poisoning cases.