A Foster Farms poultry plant is now closed due to a cockroach infestation. The Livingston, California, processing facility was shut down by the US Department of Agriculture. Officials said the plant will remain closed until the infestation is cleared and the facility is completely sanitized.
Although the USDA did not confirm how many cockroaches were found inside the plant, they said the pests were present in and around a sink used for hand washing. A spokesperson for Foster Farms said "a total of five cockroaches" were located throughout the entire plant. Oregon Live reports the facility has ceased operations and they are currently working on "enhanced sanitizing."
In an official statement, the company admitted this is the fourth time cockroaches were discovered inside the plant in the last four months. As reported by NBC News, Foster Farms has an ongoing protocol to combat pests. However, the issue seems to be recurring.
The poultry processing company insists that no products were contaminated by the bugs. They further assert that no other facilities were impacted by the infestation.
In March 2013, the Livingston plant was identified in a nationwide salmonella outbreak that sickened 416 people in 23 states. Although the FDA threatened to close the plant in October, 2013, Foster Farms agreed to clean the facility and adhere to food safety guidelines.
The USDA noted that cockroaches and other pests "[increase] the chances of product contamination rendering the product unsafe." The agency said the presence of pests indicates "Poorly maintained facilities and equipment."
USDA spokesman Adam Tarr said the salmonella outbreak was not linked to the cockroaches. However, the pests are known to carry and spread harmful bacteria including salmonella.
Foster Farms began cleaning and sanitizing the plant on Wednesday. A spokesperson said the plant will reopen after the USDA conducts a follow-up inspection.
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