DeLauro reacts to closing of chicken plant due to roaches

Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, whose district includes a part of Shelton, says the closing of a chicken processing plant in California due to a roach infestation is “long overdue.”

DeLauro has been critical of the company involved, Foster Farms, due to salmonella problems.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently ordered Foster Farms to suspend operations at its facility in Livingston, Calif.

USDA inspectors cited the Livingston plant for roaches several times in the past six months, and roaches are known carriers of salmonella, according to a press release from DeLauro’s office.

Says USDA should have acted earlier

Despite being linked to hundreds of illnesses caused by a drug-resistant strain of salmonella Heidelberg, it was a roach infestation that has finally provoked USDA to act, stated the DeLauro release.

“This day is long overdue,” said DeLauro, a 12-term Democrat who often has spoken out on food safety issues. “The evidence that Foster Farms chicken has sickened over 500 people is overwhelming. Earlier action by USDA could have saved many families the heartache of seeing their loved ones suffer.”

‘Repeated outbreaks’

DeLauro has been pushing for action against the company. “USDA has said they did not have the authority to shut down Foster Farms, despite repeated outbreaks,” she said.

“We are exploring options to ensure they have clear authority to do so, instead of hoping they find filth before they can shut down a plant they already know is a problem,” she said. “Change must be made to protect Americans.”

Had chaired key subcommittee

DeLauro is a former chairman, and current ranking member, of the U.S. House subcommittee responsible for funding the federal Agriculture Department.

She issued the release on Foster Farms’ Livingston, Calif. plant with U.S. Rep. Louise Slaughter, an upstate New York Democrat who is a microbiologist and has worked to stop the spread of antibiotic resistance by curbing the overuse of antibiotics in food animals.

Been in business since 1939

Foster Farms has been a poultry producer since being founded in 1939 in California. The private, family-owned company sells chicken and turkey products.

In the past, DeLauro has called on Foster Farms to stop shipments of raw chicken until the cause of the salmonella Heidelberg outbreak was found.

Separately, she also has pushed to stop the import of processed chicken from China due to what she called that nation’s “atrocious food safety record.”

Shelton has two members of Congress

The city of Shelton is divided between the Third District, represented by DeLauro, and the Fourth District, represented by fellow Democratic U.S. Rep. Jim Himes.

The Third District is centered in New Haven County, while the Fourth District includes most of Fairfield County. DeLauro lives in New Haven and was first elected to Congress in 1990.