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Foster Farms cockroach infestation causes indefinite closure
foster farms
The Livingston Foster Farms plant was closed Wednesday by the USDA due to a cockroach infestation. - photo by Journal file photo

Despite Foster Farms cooperation with the United States Department of Agriculture since a Salmonella outbreak was traced back to three Central Valley plants last October, the outlook remains bleak as processing was indefinitely terminated at the company’s Livingston plant on Wednesday due to findings of live cockroaches.

On Wednesday Foster Farms received a notice of suspension from the USDA that addressed five incidences of live cockroach findings at their Livingston plant from September, November, December and two consecutive days in January. Each time the company was cited for noncompliance as the cockroaches were found during production near a sink, sanitizer dispenser, on the floor and on a “grey plastic tub that is a direct product contact surface.” The pests are cause for concern due to the possibility that they could harbor food borne pathogens from contact with garbage, which would contaminate product according to the USDA.

“These recent finding of egregious insanitary conditions related to a cockroach infestation in your facility indicate that your establishment is not being operated and maintained in sanitary conditions, or in a manner to ensure that product is not adulterated,” said the notice.

A recall has not been administered and product has not been impacted.

The Food Safety and Inspection Service suspended their inspectors Wednesday, which halted production at the Livingston plant and caused Foster Farms to send their product to nearby facilities. The same day that they received the notice Foster Farms commenced sanitization and treatment of the Livingston plant and reiterated its compliance with FSIS in a released statement.

“The company completed the treatment today and will review its program with the FSIS for full approval. No other facilities are affected. No products are affected,” said Foster Farms.

The Livingston plant will remain shut down until Foster Farms submits a written, corrective plan in accordance with the Poultry Products Inspection Act that demonstrates that products will be produced in sanitary conditions by addressing causes of past infestations and prevention plans for the future.

Foster Farms is not unfamiliar with submitting plans to the FSIS as they were required to submit a corrective action plan just three months ago due to an outbreak of a rare strain of Salmonella Heidelberg that was traced to the same Livingston plant as well as two Fresno facilities. As of October, the Salmonella outbreak affected 278 people in 17 states and has risen to 416 cases in 23 states as of January.