An outbreak of Salmonella illnesses linked to chicken in Washington and some other states is a reminder that all poultry products carry the risk of contamination. Preparing and cooking chicken properly makes it safe to eat.

Since last June, at least 56 people in Washington got sick due to a specific strain of Salmonella Heidelberg. This outbreak has been linked to chicken produced in Foster Farms plants in Washington and California. Fifteen people sickened in Washington were hospitalized; no deaths are known to be linked to this outbreak.

Salmonella is a common cause of foodborne illness, accounting for 600-800 reports of illness in Washington each year. There are many sources of Salmonella bacteria, but poultry is a common source. Salmonella in raw chicken is not limited to any one brand. The U.S. Department of Agriculture allows the sale of raw poultry that contains Salmonella, so the bacteria may be in all brands. In most cases of Salmonella illness, known as salmonellosis, a source is not identified.