Foster Farms chicken recall over Fourth of July draws critics; CDC says 9 sickened in Colorado

Recall due to possible Salmonella contamination

DENVER - The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says nine people in Colorado are now sick after eating recalled chicken linked to Foster Farms.

More than 600 cases of Salmonella-related illnesses from chicken have been reported nationwide, according to the CDC.

Foster Farms issued the recall for chicken sold with use or freeze by dates in March due to possible Salmonella contamination. The chicken was sold under the company's name and under private labels including Safeway, Kroger, SaveMart and Valbest.

Foster Farms says the chicken was produced in March and has a "use or freeze by" date ranging from March 16, 2014 to March 29, 2014.  These products were shipped to Costco, Kroger, Safeway, FoodMaxx and other retail stores retail stores and distribution centers in Colorado, Arizona, California, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Nevada and Utah.

A Safeway spokesperson told 7NEWS none of its stores in Colorado carried the recalled chicken.

Yet the announcement of the recall over the busy Fourth of July weekend is generating criticism from several members of Congress.

"Burying news late at night on a holiday weekend may be a time-honored tradition by Washington spin doctors, but it is a shameful way to protect public health,"  Connecticut Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro and New York Congresswoman Louise Slaughter said in a joint statement. "We have been saying for months that tainted chicken does not belong on the grocery stores shelves or the dinner tables of American families. How many more people will fall ill, or even be hospitalized, before USDA does the right thing and cracks down on companies that threaten our families' health and safety?"

It's a feeling shared by attorney Bill Marler, whose Seattle-based food safety firm is representing some of the sick in California.

"Are you going to watch TV on the Fourth of July when you're more concerned about going to the parade?" asked Marler.

Customers with products from the above dates should check for a "P" with a number that indicates the plant code. The recalled items came from plants with plant codes P-6137, P-6137A and P-7632.

The recall includes Sunland Frozen Chicken with "best by" dates from March 2 to March 11, 2015.

"Fresh Foster Farms branded chicken products in grocery stores today are not involved," company officials said in a statement. "Individually frozen bags of chicken sold at retail are not involved.  Products were sold under the Foster Farms and private label brand names."

Click for a full list of products affected by the recall:

Foster Farms says one person became sick in May after eating one of its products.

However, the government says this illness is part of an ongoing outbreak being monitored and investigated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) and the CDC.

"Until this point, there had been no direct evidence that linked the illnesses associated with this outbreak to a specific product or production lot," officials said. "Evidence that is required for a recall includes obtaining case-patient product that tests positive for the same particular strain of Salmonella that caused the illness, packaging on product that clearly links the product to a specific facility and a specific production date, and records documenting the shipment and distribution of the product from purchase point of the case-patient to the originating facility."

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