Signs of a cockroach infestation have shut down a California poultry processing plant operated by Foster Farms, which was previously linked to a salmonella outbreak that sickened more than 400 people.
The Foster Farms plant located in Livingston, California was shut down by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) following a fourth formal complaint issued by the Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS), which indicated that living cockroaches were seen during plant production and near sanitary stations since September 2013. The company acknowledged the problem in a press release issued this week.
On January 8, spokesman for the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service Adam Tarr announced that inspectors observed unsanitary conditions at the plant involving the presence of cockroaches. Officials were not able to specify how many were present, but have decided to cease production at the plant until a new multi-step sanitary process is implemented.
The FSIS holds a zero tolerance policy and is working diligently with Foster Farms and the USDA to create new policies to monitor and further reduce unsanitary risks, such as pest control and Salmonella prevention. The USDA has ordered the company to assemble a Food Safety Advisory Board that will consist of national food safety experts to better execute new safety procedures during all stages of fresh poultry processing.
FSIS inspectors indicate that the shutdown plant has not been definitively linked to the ongoing outbreak of salmonella, which resulted in the recall of roughly 40,000 pounds of chicken used in a variety of products. In October 2013, the FSIS threatened to shut down the Foster Farms Livingston plant as well as two other plants in Fresno, California after the outbreak was linked to at least 416 people in 23 states.
Although the Livingston plant has shut down, Foster Farms transferred production to two other nearby plants that continue to operate.