Cockroach Infestation Closes US Chicken Plant

A US chicken factory, linked to a recent salmonella oubreak, has been shut down after inspectors found live cockroaches for the fourth time in five months.

US Federal inspectors halted processing at the Foster Farms plant in California following the discovery of "an infestation of live cockroaches," a suspension notice sent by the United States Department of Agriculture said. The letter, addressed to Farm Foods CEO Ron Foster, said the latest find demonstrated that the firm had "failed to maintain an effective pest control program ... to assure that wholesome, unadulterated meat and poultry products are produced."

It said the insects had been discovered at the Livingston plant on four separate occasions between August 1, 2013 and January 8, 2014. They were found in several areas including a sink used for hand washing and a sanitiser dispenser box in meat production areas.

The plant is one of three in central California being investigated over a nationwide salmonella outbreak, newspaper USA Today reported.

According to the federal Centres for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, 416 people across 23 states have been made ill by the ongoing outbreak, the newspaper said.

Studies have found that cockroaches carry viruses and bacteria, including salmonella.

In a statement, Foster Farms confirmed that the Livingston plant had been closed for "sanitisation and treatment". It said the treatment had now been completed and the factory was ready for further inspection.

The company added that the Livingston discovery was an "isolated incident" and "no other facilities were affected".

"A single incident is not acceptable, and we are committed to a zero tolerance policy," the statement said.

Foster Farms is the sixth-largest chicken processor in the United States.

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