LIVINGSTON, Calif., Oct. 11 (UPI) -- A poultry plant in central California has been linked to a salmonella outbreak that has made 278 people in 18 states ill since March, officials said.
The salmonella outbreak was traced back to two Foster Farms chicken processing plants in Fresno and one in Livingston, where the company has its headquarters, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture threatened to close down the three facilities if Foster Farms did not take steps to address the salmonella issue at the plants.
"Your establishment has failed to demonstrate that it has adequate controls in place to address salmonella in your poultry products," said a letter from the USDA to Foster Farms.
The USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service, however, did not issue a recall of Foster Farms products and said the company's poultry was safe to eat as long as it is cooked to a minimum of 165 degrees.
The USDA's closure threat was lifted Thursday when the company submitted plans to improve conditions at its plants.
"We have a 75-year history for excellence because of our commitment to continuous advancement in food safety," Foster Farms President and Chief Executive Ron Foster said in a statement. "We are putting every resource we have toward the continued safety of our fresh chicken."