UPDATE: Oklahoma not in 18-state Salmonella outbreak during shutdown

Salmonella chicken Foster Farms

An ongoing salmonella outbreak is stirring fears the government shutdown may be interfering with the investigation.

Officials with the U.S. Department of Agriculture said 278 people have been sickened by salmonella in 18 states; Oklahoma is not one of them.

Close to half of the patients have been hospitalized.

The illnesses have been traced back to products produced by Foster Farms in California.

Authorities at the Centers for Disease Control have brought back roughly 30 employees from furlough to monitor the outbreak but they are still at two-thirds their usual staffing.

The Food and Drug Administration has 60 percent of its food inspectors on furlough, although those who are working are tending to public health needs like outbreaks.

USDA officials said Foster Farms has until Thursday to fix the “unsanitary conditions” in their plans or they will be shut down.

However, Foster Farms officials said they are not recalling any products.

They said their products are “safe and present no risk when safe food handling and cooking practices are followed.”

Foster Farms stated on their website that safety inspections are not affected in the government shutdown.

We tried to get more information from the USDA but their website is not available at this time because of the government shutdown.