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Foster Farms resumes operations
Foster Farms Liv pic1
A court order, which lasts until a Jan. 29 court hearing, requires the Livingston Foster Farms plant to supply face masks to workers and make sure they wear them or face shields where social distancing isn't possible. - photo by KRISTINA HACKER / The Journal

Hundreds of employees resumed work at the Foster Farms Livingston plant on Wednesday as the company reopened its doors after a 10 day closure for a massive sanitization project.

Nearby California plants shouldered the production workload while the Livingston plant performed measures to ensure that the Foster Farms’ preventative plan that was approved by the United States Department of Agriculture Food and Safety Inspection was fully implemented. Foster Farms was forced to submit a corrective action plan in accordance with the Poultry Products Inspection Act after several incidences of cockroaches were detected and the plant was shut down on Jan. 8.

The notice addressed five incidences of cockroaches in the facility. The pests could harbor food borne pathogens from contact with garbage, which would contaminate poultry product according to the USDA. Foster Farms resumed production on Jan. 11 after receiving approval from the USDA for its sanitation and treatment measures but voluntarily closed facilities on Jan. 12 to ensure that the most effective treatment protocols were in place.

“The company is exercising vigilance and choosing to dedicate additional time to ensure its preventative plan is fully realized with the most effective technology and treatment available,” said Foster Farms in a press release issued Jan. 12.

Foster Farms worked to eradicate the cockroaches by performing sanitization treatments and voluntarily extending the closure to ensure that the most effective treatment protocols were performed. The company did not provide details regarding the procedures that were performed. While more than 1,000 employees remained working the company intends to add weekend shifts and provide overtime to hourly employees to compensate for those affected by the 10 day closure. 

“Although this has been a challenging time, we remain committed to the highest level of quality and food safety through all aspects of our plant operations and will emerge a stronger company,” said Foster Farms President Ron Foster.

Three months prior to the enforced closure, Foster Farms faced another potential closure when a rare strain of Salmonella Heidelberg 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 430 cases in 23 states as of January.