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USDA warns California poultry producer linked to outbreak

WASHINGTON — The Agriculture Department is threatening to shut down three California poultry processing facilities linked to a salmonella outbreak that has sickened 278 people across the country.

USDA said Wednesday that Foster Farms, owner of the three facilities, has until tomorrow to tell the department how it will fix the problem. The company was notified Monday.

Sampling by USDA in September showed that raw chicken processed by those facilities included strains of salmonella that were linked to the outbreak. But the company has not recalled any of its products.

In a letter to Foster Farms, USDA said those samples coupled with illnesses suggest that the sanitary conditions at the facility "could pose a serious ongoing threat to public health."

The first illnesses in the outbreak were reported in March and the outbreak has had a high rate of hospitalizations. The CDC said 42 percent of victims were hospitalized, about double the normal rate, and it is resistant to many antibiotics, making it a more dangerous outbreak.


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