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WASHINGTON -- The Agriculture Department is threatening to shut down three California poultry processing facilities linked to a salmonella outbreak that has sickened 278 people across the country.

The Centers for Disease Control says two of those 278 are from Idaho.

USDA said Wednesday that Foster Farms, owner of the three facilities, has until tomorrow to tell the department how it will fix the problem. The company was notified Monday.

Sampling by USDA in September showed that raw chicken processed by those facilities included strains of salmonella that were linked to the outbreak. But the company has not recalled any of its products.

Raw products from the facilities in question bear one of the establishment numbers inside a USDA mark of inspection or elsewhere on the package:

P6137
P6137A
P7632

The Agriculture Department can halt production by withdrawing meat inspectors. In its letter to Foster Farms, USDA said the evidence suggests the sanitary conditions in the establishment under which the product is produced could pose a serious ongoing threat to public health.

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