CINCINNATI, Oct. 8, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- The Kroger Co. (NYSE: KR) family of stores, including Fred Meyer, Fry's, King Soopers/City Market, Ralphs, Food 4 Less (west coast), Smith's in southern Nevada and New Mexico, and QFC, today responded to a USDA public health alert raising concerns of illness caused by strains of Salmonella Heidelberg that is associated with raw chicken products from three Foster Farms production facilities, by removing those products from sale. Other Foster Farms facilities have not been linked to the outbreak by the USDA. These chicken products are sold under a variety of labels and identifiable by looking on packages for the following USDA mark of inspection numbers: P6137, P6137A and P7632. The company is removing products from its Fred Meyer, Fry's, King Soopers/City Market, Ralphs, Food 4 Less (west coast), Smith's in southern Nevada and New Mexico, and QFC stores and warehouses after learning that the Salmonella outbreak has sickened an estimated 278 people in 18 states. Kroger, Dillons and Jay C division stores are not included in the removal.The company is also initiating its customer notification system that alerts customers through register receipt tape messages and phone calls. Customers should carefully check their refrigerators and freezers for the referenced product. Any opened or unopened products with the USDA mark of inspection numbers P6137, P6137A or P7632 should be returned to their local Fred Meyer, Fry's, King Soopers, Ralphs, Food 4 Less (west coast), Smith's in southern Nevada or New Mexico, or QFC store for a full refund. Customers who have questions may contact Kroger at 1-800-KROGERS.Customers are reminded that proper handling, storage and cooking of raw chicken offers the best protection against food-borne illness. According to the USDA, when poultry is thoroughly cooked to an internal temperature of no less than 165 degrees as measured by a food thermometer, any harmful bacteria are destroyed and the food is safe to consume.Kroger, one of the world's largest retailers, employs 343,000 associates who serve customers in 2,418 supermarkets and multi-department stores in 31 states under two dozen local banner names including Kroger, City Market, Dillons, Jay C, Food 4 Less, Fred Meyer, Fry's, King Soopers, QFC, Ralphs and Smith's. The company also operates 783 convenience stores, 326 fine jewelry stores, 1,195 supermarket fuel centers and 37 food processing plants in the U.S. Recognized by Forbes as the most generous company in America, Kroger supports hunger relief, breast cancer awareness, the military and their families, and more than 30,000 schools and grassroots organizations. Kroger contributes food and funds equal to 200 million meals a year through more than 80 Feeding America food bank partners. A leader in supplier diversity, Kroger is a proud member of the Billion Dollar Roundtable and the U.S. Hispanic Chamber's Million Dollar Club. SOURCE The Kroger Co.