Livingston’s Foster Farms plant still closed

01/15/2014 9:58 PM

01/15/2014 9:59 PM

As of Wednesday night, Foster Farms had not announced when its chicken plant would reopen.

The company voluntary closed the plant Sunday, a day after it reopened after a three-day federal shutdown related to cockroaches inside the operation. About a third of the 3,000 employees have continued to work on maintenance, but chicken production has shifted to other plants.

“Foster Farms expects this closure to be brief, lasting several days, but does not at this time have a definitive date for resuming operations,” a statement issued Sunday said. No consumer products are affected, the company said.

After attending a meeting at the plant Tuesday, California Poultry Federation President Bill Mattos said it was likely to reopen today.

The closure came three months after the U.S. Department of Agriculture threatened to suspend production at the Livingston plant and two Foster Farms sites in Fresno because of salmonella issues. Two outbreaks tied to raw chicken sickened at least 550 people last year.

The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service reported finding cockroaches on five occasions since September. The agency did not specify a number; Foster Farms said it was five bugs.

Federal and state officials said cockroaches can spread harmful bacteria. They also said salmonella occurs naturally in chickens and that people can protect themselves by cooking the meat to 165 degrees and washing items that come in contact with raw products.

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