LIVINGSTON, Calif.The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) suspended operations at Foster Farms' chicken plant in Livingston, Calif., after a cockroach sighting during plant operations on Wednesday. This marks the fifth cockroach sighting at the plant since September 2013.
The plant closed temporarily for treatment, as required by USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Services (FSIS).
"FSIS Inspection has observed and documented cockroaches in your establishment on multiple days (including on two consecutive days), in multiple locations within your establishment," USDA wrote in a notice of suspension to Foster Farms. "These recent findings of egregious insanitary conditions related to a cockroach infestation in your facility indicate that your establishment is not being operated and maintained in sanitary condition, or in a manner to ensure that product is not adulterated."
In a press release on the company website, Foster Farms claims only five cockroaches have been sighted since September of 2013. "FSIS identified a total of five cockroaches in our 315,000 square-foot Livingston plant. The company aggressively addressed each instance to the full satisfaction of the FSIS. A single incident is not acceptable, and we are committed to a zero tolerance policy."
And this isn't the first time Foster Farms has been on thin ice with USDA. The Livingston plant was one of three Foster Farms facilities linked to a Salmonella outbreak last year that spread to 23 states and sickened 416 people, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
USDA could not force a recall of the affected Foster Farms product because salmonella is considered naturally occurring and not an adulterant. As a result, FSIS had threatened to withdraw inspectors from Foster Farms, which would have shut down the poultry operation. But Foster Farms submitted documentation to the agency in response to a letter that raised concerns about the company's food-safety practices amid a Salmonella outbreak.
Foster Farms assured consumers the latest hazard has been resolved. "The company completed the treatment today and will review its program with the FSIS for full approval. Today's treatment is expected to fully resolve this incident," the company said in the release.