The USDA shut down operations at the Foster Farms chicken plant in Livingston, California after finding the facility to have severe sanitation problems.
The US Department of Agriculture shut down operations at the Foster Farms chicken plant in Livingston, California after finding the facility to have severe sanitation problems.
Among the issues was the presence of cockroaches in areas where the food is handled.
In a particularly disturbing discovery, the disease-ridden pests were found in bins that come into direct contact with the chicken.
They were also spotted in a sink located near the chicken-processing line.
Said the USDA’s report, “These recent findings of egregious unsanitary conditions… indicate that your establishment is not being operated and maintained in…a manner to ensure that product is not adulterated.”
The USDA has rarely closed a slaughterhouse over roaches, officials said.
This is the first time since Foster Farms was first implicated in a nationwide salmonella outbreak in 2012 that the FSIS has taken such tough action.
Foster Farms was among the companies blamed for two salmonella outbreaks that occurred in 2012 and 2013.
In the first outbreak, which sickened 134 people from June 2012 to April 2013, FSIS inspectors investigated the company’s plant in Kelso, Wash., but never closed it or asked for a recall. Foster Farms tightened food-safety procedures at the plant, stemming the salmonella contamination, USDA officials said.
The second salmonella outbreak started in March 2013 and was traced to the Livingston plant and two others in Fresno, Calif. In early October, the FSIS threatened to close all three facilities but backed off when Foster Farms promised to clean them up.
The Livingston plant specifically was linked to the latter.
The bacteria implicated in the latest outbreak include strains resistant to commonly prescribed antibiotics. The outbreak appears to be ongoing, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. So far, 416 people in 23 states and Puerto Rico have been sickened.
Until the company can prove that they have a plan to eradicate the roaches and have blocked them from future entry, the facility will remain closed.
Foster Farms has promised to do so and said they will also put together a special council to address food safety.
They also plan to undergo what they called an ‘enhanced sanitizing’ at the shuttered plant.