Photo via Wikimedia Commons.
Photo via Wikimedia Commons.

A jury rejected a West Covina woman’s claims that eating tainted Foster Farms chicken caused her to be afflicted with a medical condition in which she rapidly lost feeling in her limbs and had to undergo a lengthy rehabilitation.

The Los Angeles Superior Court panel deliberated for about 1 1/2 days before finding in favor of the poultry company and against plaintiff Ruth Rivera on Thursday.

Rivera’s lawyer, Daniel Balaban, said his client acquired Guillain-Barre syndrome in late December 2011 and that it was directly attributable to campylobacter bacteria commonly found within the intestines of chickens. Balaban said a large number of the millions of chickens processed by Foster Farms at its main plant in Livingston each year are adulterated because of a lack of precautionary steps to reduce the chance bacteria will be present when the chickens are shipped to market.

Campylobacter is one of the most common causes of food poisoning.

But Foster Farms attorney Sharon Collier said Rivera did not have any receipts to prove her claim she ate Foster Farms chicken shortly before becoming sick. Collier also said Rivera could have become ill from other sources of campylobacter since it is found in other such foods as raw eggs, shellfish and turkey.

Collier said the USDA heavily regulates Foster Farms and daily staffs 40 inspectors at the Livingston plant.

Randy Boyce, Foster Farms’ senior vice president and general counsel, praised the jury’s verdict.

“Food safety is Foster Farms’ highest priority,” Boyce said. “The company maintains a commitment to upholding food safety standards that are more stringent than USDA requirements.”

Boyce said all fresh poultry products should be cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degrees as measured by a meat thermometer.

City News Service

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