News Feature | January 13, 2014

Foster Farms Shutters Its Doors

Source: Food Online
Sam Lewis

By Sam Lewis

In an effort to clean up a cockroach infestation, the poultry company voluntarily and temporarily suspends operations at its Livingston, CA facility

Foster Farms “voluntarily and temporarily” shut down its Livingston, CA facility on Sunday, Jan 12, 2014. The closing of the company’s largest poultry facility in central California comes just two days after federal inspectors revoked a suspension for an infestation of cockroaches.

The United State Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) closed the plant on Wednesday, Jan 8 after finding five separate occurrences of live cockroaches within the facility over the course of four months. The suspension was lifted on Friday, Jan 10 after the company presented inspectors with a plan for improvement. Workers of the plant went back to business as usual on Saturday, Jan 11 before the eventual shutdown on Sunday morning.

The company says the production of chicken at its Livingston, CA facility will be put to a halt for a few days as it expands its safety procedures. “On behalf of my family, I made a commitment to making this right, and we are taking every opportunity to ensure the long-term efficacy of our program at this plant,” says Ron Foster, president of Foster Farms. “We are confident in the preventative plan and want to take the time to properly implement new measures to our satisfaction.”

In the meantime, the company will shift the Livingston, CA facility’s production to some of the company’s other facilities in central California. The closed facility’s maintenance employees will continue working through the closure, while other employees will be called back to work once the maintenance has been completed. “Foster Farms expects this closure to be brief, lasting several days, but does not at this time have a definitive date for resuming operations,” reads a company statement.

The cockroach infestation was the most recent setback for one of the nation’s largest producers of poultry. Both the Livingston, CA and Fresno, CA plants of Foster Farms are connected to an outbreak of Salmonella that has sickened in excess of 400 people since March. The company says no chicken products have been affected from the cockroach problem. Foster Farms has not issued any recalls of its products, advising consumers to properly handle poultry products and thoroughly cook them.

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