DeLauro: USDA should shut down chicken producer due to salmonella issues

Congresswomen Rosa DeLauro, who represents part of Shelton, wants the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to shut down all processing facilities at a major U.S. chicken producer until a salmonella outbreak that has sickened more than 600 people in 29 states is stopped.

Just before the July Fourth holiday weekend, USDA announced that California-based Foster Farms had issued a voluntary recall for its chicken products.

This was the first recall Foster Farms has issued related to this outbreak, which has been going on for over a year, according to DeLauro, a Democrat in her 12th term.

Keep ‘tainted chicken’ out of stores

“We have been saying for months that tainted chicken does not belong on the grocery stores shelves or the dinner tables of American families,” DeLauro said in a joint statement issued with a Democratic U.S. House colleague.

“How many more people will fall ill, or even be hospitalized, before USDA does the right thing and cracks down on companies that threaten our families’ health and safety?” she asked.

Has introduced legislation

DeLauro has introduced legislation designed to end any confusion over whether the USDA has the authority to issue a mandatory recall or shut down Foster Farms.

The Pathogens Reduction and Testing Reform Act would require USDA to recall any meat, poultry or egg product contaminated by pathogens associated with serious illness or death, or that are resistant to two or more critically important antibiotics for human medicine.

DeLauro also criticized USDA for announcing the Foster Farms recall just before a holiday weekend, calling this attempt to bury bad news “a shameful way to protect public health.”

Hundreds sickened in other case

During the past year, an outbreak of antibiotic-resistant salmonella Heidelberg linked to chicken produced by Foster Farms has sickened at least 621 Americans, hospitalizing almost 40% of those infected, according to DeLauro.

Salmonella Heidelberg is resistant to several commonly prescribed antibiotics, a trait that is associated with increased hospitalization in infected individuals, she said.

DeLauro is a former chairwoman of the U.S. House subcommittee that funds USDA and a longtime advocate for stronger food safety standards.

She represents the Fourth Congressional District that includes a part of Shelton, and lives in New Haven. Part of Shelton is in the Third Congressional District, represented by Democrat Jim Himes.