The government was threatening Wednesday to shut down three Foster Farms plants in California linked to a salmonella outbreak that has sickened at least 278 people.
The Department of Agriculture warned Foster Farms that it had until Thursday to tell the agency how it planned to fix the problem, according to the Associated Press.
There’s concern that raw chicken produced by the plants, located in Fresno and Livingston, is associated with illnesses cause by strains of Salmonella Heidelberg, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service announced.
In 18 states, 278 illnesses have been reported, according to the USDA.
Some 42 percent of victims have been hospitalized in the outbreak, more than double the rate of hospitalizations in previous outbreaks, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
The CDC also reported that the salmonella strains detected showed a resistance to one or more commonly prescribed antibiotics.
The outbreak has not been linked to specific products or production dates, the USDA stated. Consumers can check if their Foster Farms raw chicken products came from any of the three facilities involved by finding one of these codes inside a USDA mark of inspection or elsewhere on the package:
Products were mainly distributed to retail outlets in California, Oregon and Washington, according to the USDA.
The outbreak comes amid a government shutdown in which CDC employees were furloughed. Some were summoned back to work because the outbreak is considered an imminent threat to public health.