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Salmonella found in factories is a 'serious ongoing threat'

he U.S. Department of Agriculture said October 07 that it had issued a public health alert after raw chicken products produced by Foster Farms have sickened hundreds of people, the majority of whom are in California. Approximately 278 illnesses, caused by strains of Salmonella Heidelberg, were reported in 18 states. No deaths have been linked to the continuing outbreak.
Robyn Beck | AFP | Getty Images
he U.S. Department of Agriculture said October 07 that it had issued a public health alert after raw chicken products produced by Foster Farms have sickened hundreds of people, the majority of whom are in California. Approximately 278 illnesses, caused by strains of Salmonella Heidelberg, were reported in 18 states. No deaths have been linked to the continuing outbreak.

The Agriculture Department is threatening to shut down three California poultry processing facilities linked to a salmonella outbreak that has sickened 278 people across the country.

USDA said Wednesday that Foster Farms, owner of the three facilities, has until tomorrow to tell the department how it will fix the problem. The company was notified Monday.

Sampling by USDA in September showed that raw chicken processed by those facilities included strains of salmonella that were linked to the outbreak.

(Watch: Yum blames the chicken)

But the company has not recalled any of its products. The Agriculture Department can halt production by withdrawing meat inspectors.

In its letter to Foster Farms, USDA said the evidence suggests "the sanitary conditions in the establishment under which the product is produced could pose a serious ongoing threat to public health."

—By The Associated Press