In September 2013, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) initiated a multistate investigation of an outbreak of salmonella Heidelberg. By October, 278 people had been sickened, including 11 from Arizona. As of January 2014, the number of people affected by the outbreak continues to rise.
According to the CDC, the outbreak is linked to raw chicken provided for retail sale by Foster Farms. This outbreak follows a previous salmonella outbreak in 2012, also linked to Foster Farms. During that event, 134 people were sickened, with no deaths reported.
As with manufacturers of dangerous products, food producers and processors who introduce contaminated products into the food supply are subject to regulatory and legal action. Facts concerning the current outbreak include the following:
- The average time to become ill after consuming contaminated chicken is approximately two to four weeks.
- Salmonella bacteria are common in raw chicken. A recent Consumer Reports investigation found that 97 percent of chicken offered for sale in retail outlets across the United States harbors bacteria capable of causing serious illness.
The current outbreak has sickened 430 people from 23 states and Puerto Rico. After California with 321 cases, Arizona is the next hardest-hit state, with 19 cases reported. Salmonella Heidelberg is a particularly virulent, antibiotic-resistant strain of salmonella, requiring hospitalization for almost 40 percent of those sickened by the bacteria.
Given overuse of antibiotics, crowded conditions and lax regulatory oversight, reliable relief from contaminated poultry in the food supply is not likely to occur anytime soon. If you are injured by a defective product or sickened by contaminated food in Phoenix, seek medical care and talk to a personal injury attorney about your legal options.