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USDA Threatens To Shut Down 3 Calif. Plants Linked To Salmonella Strain

LOS ANGELES ( — The federal government is threatening to shut down three California poultry processing plants linked to a drug-resistant strain of salmonella that has sickened hundreds.

KNX 1070's Pete Demetriou reports Foster Farms chicken has been linked to salmonella Heidelberg, a so-called 'super bug' that has sickened 278 people and does not respond to some antibiotics.

USDA Threatens To Shut Down 3 Calif. Plants Linked To Salmonella Strain

About half the people sickened by the bug were hospitalized, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Foster Farms has until Thursday to tell the U.S. Department of Agriculture how it plans to correct the problem or face the shutdown of the three plants tied to the outbreak.

The company has not issued a recall of the products in question, which are marked with the stamps P6137, P6137A and P7632.

On Tuesday, Ed Banning bought one of the packages at risk for carrying the salmonella Heidelberg strain.

"Why can they put stuff out that has salmonella in it when if they could check it closer, it wouldn't happen?" Banning asked.

On Wednesday, Ralph's and Food 4 Less elected to remove the products from their shelves as a precaution.

In a letter to Foster Farms the USDA raised concerns about what inspectors found at three California plants later linked to the outbreak.

Among their findings were fecal matter on carcasses, poor sanitary practices and contamination.

In a statement Wednesday, Foster Farms President and CEO Ron Foster insisted its poultry is safe and said the USDA agrees, but wants to see improvements.

"I want to reassure you that we are taking every possible step to ensure the current and future safety of our chicken products. Food safety is and has always been at the heart of our business," the statement reads.

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