Salmonella linked to Foster farms chicken

Tegan Hanlon

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has issued a health alert for Foster Farms chicken after a multi-state salmonella outbreak sickened about 278 people, according to a news release Wednesday.

In Alaska, there have been three cases of salmonella reported with a direct link to the outbreak since January, said Louisa Castrodale of the state Division of Public Health's Section of Epidemiology.

Two of the cases were reported in April and one in August.

"We've had no recent action," she said.

Castrodale said this outbreak has been a long-standing problem, involving a collection of salmonella strains with the same molecular pattern. There have been 14 cases involving those strains in the state since June 2012.

The illnesses are believed to be tied to raw chicken products produced by three Foster Farms facilities in California and mainly distributed in California, Oregon and Washington.

The products from the facilities in question have one of three numbers marked on the package: P6137, P6137A or P7632.

People in 18 states have been infected, with a majority of the cases being reported in California.

In Alaska, the alert has been put out as a cautionary measure, said Kimberly Stryker, project manager with the Division of Environmental Health's Food Safety and Sanitation Program.

"We don't have definitive information that any of the retailers in Alaska actually got the product," she said. Cases are counted according to the infected person's residency. "People should check their freezers just in case."

The USDA has not connected the illness to a specific product or production period so far. The investigation is continuing.

Salmonella accounts for 50 to 100 reported illnesses in Alaska annually, according to department. Symptoms include diarrhea, fever and stomach cramps and usually begin one to three days after exposure to the pathogen. The illness can be life-threatening, but most people recover on their own without medical treatment.

Reach Tegan Hanlon at or 257-4589.