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Do you like chicken fried, roasted or with a side of cockroach?

Four months after the United States Department of Agriculture linked an outbreak of salmonella to Foster Farms, the poultry company is once again the subject of some unwanted (and decidedly unappetizing) publicity. The USDA shut down Foster Farms’ plant in Livingston, California, after what was termed an “infestation” of live cockroaches was found at the facility. This plant was one of the three Foster Farms facilities connected to an outbreak of almost 300 reported cases of salmonella throughout 18 states last year. Although Foster Farms meats are primarily available in the western part of the U.S., according to the Orlando Sentinel, four of the cases in that outbreak occurred in Florida.

The USDA did not issue a public health alert as the result of the cockroaches found in multiple locations at the facility, as it did with the salmonella outbreak, and is not recalling any Foster Farms products. However, the facility, which escaped closure at that time, will not be allowed to reopen until the company provides government health officials with a “full corrective and preventative plan.” In a letter from an official at the Food Safety and Inspection Service to the chief executive officer of Foster Farms earlier this month, the FSIS manager noted the “egregious insanitary conditions” in the facility.

Although Foster Farms claims that none of its meat was affected by the cockroaches and insists that it has high standards for sanitation in its facilities, consumers cannot help but be concerned by the chicken processor’s recent history. Defective products of any kind can be dangerous, and even deadly, but those that we ingest into our bodies can be particularly so. Companies can and should be held legally and civilly liable when they do not take adequate safeguards to ensure the safety of the products they sell.

Source: CNBC, “Foster Farms chicken plant shut down by cockroaches” Karis Hustad, Jan. 10, 2014

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