LOS ANGELES, July 3, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- The national food safety law firm of Ron Simon & Associates, along with local counsel Gomez Trial Attorneys of San Diego, has filed a lawsuit stemming from Salmonella-contaminated chicken distributed by Foster Farms. Health officials have linked the tainted chicken to over 600 illnesses nationwide.
The lawsuit, filed on behalf of six outbreak victims, claims that Foster Farms knew that its chicken was contaminated with Salmonella, but kept selling the chicken for years despite numerous warning letters from federal health officials that the chicken would injure the public. The lawsuit seeks punitive damages against the company.
Copies of the lawsuit and warning letters to Foster Farms are available upon request.
Foster Farms: A History of Tainted Chicken and Salmonella Outbreaks
In 2004, health officials linked tainted Foster Farms chicken to 46 Salmonella Heidelberg illnesses, and the USDA warned Foster Farms that the company had failed to effectively control Salmonella contamination.
In 2009, the USDA again noted a rise in Salmonella Heidelberg illnesses, and again found that Foster Farms chicken was the source of those illnesses.
In 2012, health officials in Oregon and Washington identified a third Salmonella Heidelberg outbreak of 134 victims in 13 states, again linked to Foster Farms chicken. This outbreak was especially dangerous, as the strain of Salmonella Heidelberg had now become antibiotic resistant.
In 2013, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) identified a fourth outbreak of Salmonella Heidelberg illnesses centered in California. The outbreak strain matched a sample taken from Foster Farms chicken. Health officials held a conference call with Foster Farms, who refused to issue a recall.
By the end of July, 2013, the CDC had identified six more Salmonella Heidelberg outbreak strains, all linked to Foster Farms chicken. Four of those strains demonstrated resistance to antibiotics.
On August 6, 2013, leftover Foster Farms chicken from a victim's home in Washington State tested positive for one of the outbreak strains of Salmonella Heidelberg. Health officials held a second telephone conference call with Foster Farms, which again refused to recall the contaminated products.
As a result, in October 2013, the CDC publically announced an outbreak investigation into Foster Farms, and the USDA issued a warning letter to Foster Farms. The letter warned Foster Farms that its chicken was the source of the outbreak and that the Salmonella Heidelberg outbreak strains had been found in Foster Farms products.
Despite these warnings, Foster Farms steadfastly refused to issue a recall.
On October 11th, 2013, laboratory testing confirmed that cooked rotisserie Foster Farms chicken sold at a Costco store in San Francisco contained one of the outbreak strains of Salmonella Heidelberg. Immediately, Costco issued the recall of 23,000 units of cooked rotisserie chicken products.
Despite these findings and Costco' recall, Foster Farms still refused to recall any tainted chicken products.
On January 8, 2014, the USDA notified Foster Farms President Ron Foster of "egregious" insanitary conditions, including an infestation of live cockroaches, in one of its production facilities – 6137 P. Shortly thereafter, health officials identified a spike of more than 50 new cases of Salmonella Heidelberg.
By May 22, 2014, the CDC had identified 571 Salmonella Heidelberg victims in 27 states and Puerto Rico, directly linked to contaminated Foster Farms chicken and facilities.
Still, Foster Farms refused to issue a recall.
Then, on June 23, 2014, the health officials retrieved an intact sample of Foster Farms chicken from the home of a young boy in California who had been hospitalized for a severe Salmonella Heidelberg infection. The packaging on the chicken identified the production facility as Foster Farms facility 6137 P. The intact sample tested positive for Salmonella Heidelberg.
Finally, on July 12, 2014, facing this direct, overwhelming, and indisputable evidence, Foster Farms begrudgingly initiated a very limited recall of an "undetermined amount of chicken products" due to Salmonella Heidelberg.
Following the recall, the Salmonella Heidelberg outbreak abruptly ended.
The CDC eventually confirmed 634 victims in 29 states, with almost 500 residing in California. Of the victims, approximately 38% were hospitalized, and 15% developed blood infections.
Attorney Ron Simon Issues Statement for Victims, Sets up Salmonella Claim Center
Lead attorney Ron Simon, who represents several Foster Farms victims, issued the following statement today: "For years, despite repeated warnings from the CDC and USDA, Foster Farms refused to recall or even warn the public about its contaminated chicken while that chicken was poisoning hundreds of consumers. This litigation will examine those decisions and hold Foster Farms accountable for its egregious behavior."
Mr. Simon and his law firm have established a Foster Farms Salmonella Claim Center to assist victims in the outbreak. The Claims Center can be reached toll-free at 1-888-335-4901.
About Ron Simon
Over the last 20 years, Ron Simon and his colleagues have prosecuted thousands of food poisoning cases for victims across the United States. His work has resulted in numerous upgrades to food safety procedures in Fortune 500 companies and in legislation designed to protect consumers from dangerous food-borne pathogens.
Mr. Simon and his clients have been featured on NBC, ABC, CBS, CNN, FOX and virtually all other major television networks and print media. Mr. Simon has collected over $600,000,000 for his clients. He regularly publishes articles about food safety and litigation at www.foodpoisoningnews.com which are read by viewers in over 180 countries.
Through litigation, media commentary, and his food poisoning publications, Mr. Simon relentlessly challenges food manufacturers, distributors, and restaurants to do a better job in making our food safe.
For media inquiries or more information on the Foster Farms Salmonella Heidelberg outbreak and ongoing litigation, please contact Ron Simon directly at (713) 819-8116 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
SOURCE Ron Simon & Associates