California firm recalls chicken over salmonella fears

Story highlights

NEW: A health safety advocate says recall is too limited, "consumers deserve better"

Foster Farms produced the chicken in March

Agency: Chicken may no longer be available for purchase but may be in consumers' freezers

About 42,000 cases of acute salmonellosis are reported in U.S. annually, CDC says

CNN  — 

A California company is recalling an unknown amount of boneless chicken sold in eight states over salmonella fears, federal officials said.

Foster Farms, based in Fresno, produced the chicken on March 8, 10 and 11, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service.

It said the company shipped the products to Costco, FoodMaxx, Kroger, Safeway and other stores. The chicken ended up in Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Nevada and Utah.

“The products are mostly likely no longer available for purchase, but may be in consumers’ freezers,” the federal agency said.

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Last month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notified the food safety agency about the salmonella Heidelberg illness linked to the consumption of boneless skinless chicken.

The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service said it determined a link between the illness and the boneless skinless chicken breast products from Foster Farms.

“One case-patient has been identified in California with an illness onset date of May 5, 2014,” the agency said.

One health safety advocate criticized the government, claiming there are more related illnesses and that the recall should go beyond a few days in March.

“We do not believe the current action taken to recall Foster Farms contaminated chicken goes far enough to protect the public’s health,” said Dr. Urvashi Rangan, the head of Consumer Reports Food Safety and Sustainability Center.

“Consumers deserve better.”

Salmonella lives in the intestinal tracts of people, animals and birds. People become infected by eating foods contaminated with animal feces.

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About 42,000 cases of salmonellosis are reported in the United States every year, according to the CDC. It estimates the number of cases is much higher – about 1.2 million – due to many cases not being diagnosed.

About 400 to 450 people die each year with acute salmonellosis, the CDC says.

Typical symptoms include diarrhea, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting and fever. Most people experience symptoms within eight to 72 hours after contaminated food is ingested.

Infections usually are resolved in three to seven days, and mild cases often do not require professional treatment. More severe cases require antibiotics.

Salmonella infections can be life-threatening, especially for young children, pregnant women and their fetuses, the elderly, and those with weakened immune systems.

If not treated early, infections can spread from the intestines to the bloodstream and cause death.

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CNN’s Greg Botelho contributed to this report.