300 sick in 18 states from Salmonella but little CDC help

chickenby bgreenlee

There’s a Major Foodborne Illness Outbreak and the Government’s Shut Down 
[Via – Wired Science]

Late-breaking news, and I’ll update as I find out more: While the government is shut down, with food-safety personnel and disease detectives sent home and forbidden to work, a major foodborne-illness outbreak has begun. This evening, the Food Safety and Inspection Service of the US Department of Agriculture announced that “an estimated 278 illnesses … reported in 18 states” have been caused by chicken contaminated with Salmonella Heidelberg and possibly produced by the firm Foster Farms.

“FSIS is unable to link the illnesses to a specific product and a specific production period,” the agency said in an emailed alert. “The outbreak is continuing.


One major reason they are not able to link the outbreak to a specific plant is because the researchers at the CDC who can do the molecular fingerprinting and such are furloughed. As are the people who coordinate the many state health commissions involved.

Each state can still do the reporting as normal but the ability to coordinate multiple states is greatly hampered. The likelihood that many, many more people than 300 have become ill is huge. And, if this follows previous outbreaks, over 90 of those people were hospitalized, costing each thousands because of the food they ate.

So stay away from Foster Farm chicken. Cook your chicken. And hope the outbreak is only limited to 18 states

2 thoughts on “300 sick in 18 states from Salmonella but little CDC help

    1. Because comments on Internet forums are the place to go for facts? Of course outbreaks happen all the time. I never said this was caused by the shutdown. But timely understanding of the outbreak, in real time, is hampered because the CDC cannot coordinate multi-state task forces or research. This makes it likely that more people will get ill than need to, more will end up hospitalized than need to and more will suffer lingering effects than need to.

      And, I would expect, that Foster Farms would like to have the exact problem nailed down at the exact plant ASAP. WHich will be slower because the CDC has furloughed its scientists. Maybe re-reading The Jungle will help remind people what it was like in slaughterhouses before the USDA, the FDA, the CDC and other government agencies got involved in protecting our food supply.

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