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As USDA Introduces Proposal for 15.4% Raw Poultry Parts Standard for Salmonella, Foster Farms Remains Committed to Salmonella Prevalence Level Below 5%

LIVINGSTON, Calif. – In conjunction with today’s announcement by the United States Department of Agriculture Food Safety Inspection Service USDA-FSIS regarding a proposed 15.4 percent standard for Salmonella prevalence in raw poultry parts, California poultry producer Foster Farms has reaffirmed its commitment to maintaining Salmonella prevalence levels below 5 percent. Foster Farms has maintained an average Salmonella prevalence level of two percent for the last nine consecutive months. This performance record is the result of a $75 million food safety program launched in 2013.

“We support the USDA in taking this critical step to advance food safety across the poultry industry,” said Foster Farms President and CEO Ron Foster. “Foster Farms has made a tremendous investment to ensure that our practices represent the very best in the industry. We stand by our commitment to lead the industry with Salmonella prevalence levels of less than 5 percent. We remain dedicated to continuous food safety advances.”

Prior to today’s FSIS announcement, there was no established regulatory standard for raw poultry parts, though the most recent 2011-2012 reported industry average was 25 percent. Foster Farms has worked closely with the USDA, CDC, poultry industry and retailers to share its learnings in controlling Salmonella in the interest of creating a safer food supply system nationwide. The company continues to draw on the best food safety advice in and outside of the poultry industry through its Food Safety Advisory Board.

In 2013, Foster Farms implemented a $75 million food safety program that effectively reduced Salmonella system-wide from the breeder level, to the farms where the birds are raised and to the plants where the chicken is processed and packaged. This included improvements to equipment and processes, the implementation of a continuous testing program and food safety education.

Foster Farms’ multi-hurdle program has been credited by the CDC and the USDA for its consistent control of Salmonella in raw chicken. The company has also been recognized for its leadership in controlling Salmonella by U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein, a champion of improved food safety. Based on the program’s success, Foster Farms is actively sharing data and insights with other poultry and meat producers. As part of this collaboration, Dr. Robert O’Connor, Foster Farms’ Senior Vice President for Technical Services, leads a National Chicken Council committee on Salmonella reduction at the parts level and has informed retailers in their development of vendor protocols.

About Foster Farms
Since 1939, West Coast families have depended on Foster Farms for premium quality chicken products. Family-owned and operated, the company continues its legacy of excellence and commitment to quality established by its founders, Max and Verda Foster. Foster Farms specializes in fresh, all natural chicken products free of preservatives, additives or injected sodium enhancers. Based in California’s Central Valley, with ranches also in the Pacific Northwest, the company’s fresh chicken is produced in or near each region served and delivered fresh within 48 hours. Foster Farms also produces delicious pre-marinated, ready-to-cook and fully cooked products that meet the quality and convenience needs of today’s home cooks, retailers, warehouse clubs and foodservice customers.

Food safety is Foster Farms’ highest priority and the company would like to remind consumers to always follow safe handling, preparation and storage guidelines for the preparation of fresh poultry products. All fresh poultry products should be cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit as measured by a meat thermometer.

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