Foster Farms gets OK to reopen plant

01/10/2014 9:42 AM

01/10/2014 8:59 PM

Foster Farms plans to resume production at its chicken plant this morning, three days after federal inspectors shut it down because of cockroaches. All 3,500 workers will be called back to the plant, which is one of the largest employers in the Northern San Joaquin Valley.

The reopening follows approval of pest prevention measures Friday by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service. “We have devoted our fullest efforts to resolve this issue,” Ron Foster, president and chief executive officer, said in a news release. “As a company, Foster Farms will emerge stronger and with a continued commitment to quality.”

The food safety service could not be reached for comment Friday. In a letter Wednesday, it said the reopening would depend on “adequate written assurances of corrective and preventive measures to assure that meat and poultry products will be produced under sanitary conditions.”

Foster Farms said five cockroaches were found between September and Wednesday; the FSIS letter suggested more but did not have a specific figure. The agency also said the pest has the potential of spreading microbes that can make chicken consumers sick.

The company said no products were affected, and production shifted to its other California plants.

The action came three months after the food safety service threatened the same thing at the Livingston plant and two Foster Farms sites in Fresno because of a salmonella outbreak tied to raw chicken. It is believed to have sickened more than 500 people around the nation. Shutdown was averted when the company carried out enhanced safeguards.

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