Salmonella fears prompt grocery stores to pull some chicken from shelves

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— All City Market and King Soopers stores in Colorado, including those in Craig and Steamboat Springs, have voluntarily stopped selling potentially dangerous chicken.

Still, Routt and Moffat county residents might want to check their poultry packaging labels.

On Monday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service issued a public health alert about the Foster Farms raw chicken product made at three facilities in California.

The Department of Agriculture stated in a news release it was unable to link the illnesses to a specific product and a specific production period. The raw chicken products potentially impacted have one of three numbers inside a USDA mark of inspection or somewhere else on the package: P6137, P6137A or P7632.

Walmart spokeswoman Dianna Dee said Colorado stores do not carry the Foster Farms products made at the California facilities. A Safeway spokesperson did not respond to inquiries Wednesday.

City Market spokeswoman Kelli McGannon said even though there was no recall ordered, the store decided to stop selling the product to be cautious. That does not mean no one bought the chicken before it was removed from the shelves. McGannon said people who purchased the product can return it for a refund.

The Department of Agriculture is concerned the chicken might contain salmonella, but if handled correctly and cooked to a high enough temperature, the salmonella should be destroyed. An estimated 278 illnesses were reported in 18 states. The cases were predominantly in California. Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment spokesman Mark Salley said there were four illnesses in Colorado, but he did not know in which counties they occurred.

The Routt County Environmental Health department was unaware of any cases in the area.

Salmonella infections can be life threatening, especially to those with weak immune systems, such as infants, the elderly and people with HIV infections or those undergoing chemotherapy, according to the Department of Agriculture. Symptoms include diarrhea, abdominal cramps and fever within eight to 72 hours.

According to the Department of Agriculture, all poultry should be cooked to at least 165 degrees.

“A food thermometer is the only way to know that food has reached a high enough temperature to destroy foodborne bacteria,” according to the Department of Agriculture.

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247, email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @SBTStensland10

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