Salmonella Leads to Recall of 36M Pounds of Ground Turkey

By: AP Email
By: AP Email

WASHINGTON (AP) - Meat giant Cargill is recalling 36 million
pounds of ground turkey linked to a nationwide salmonella outbreak
that has killed one person in California and sickened at least 76
others.

Illnesses in the outbreak date back to March and have been
reported in 26 states coast to coast.

Cargill said Wednesday that it is recalling fresh and frozen
ground turkey products produced at the company's Springdale, Ark.,
plant from Feb. 20 through Aug. 2 due to possible contamination
from the strain of salmonella linked to the illnesses.

Company officials said that all ground turkey production has
been suspended at the plant until the company is able to determine
the source of the outbreak.

"Given our concern for what has happened, and our desire to do
what is right for our consumers and customers, we are voluntarily
removing our ground turkey products from the marketplace," said
Steve Willardsen, president of Cargill's turkey processing
business.

The Minnesota-based company said it was initiating the recall
after its own internal investigation, an Agriculture Department
investigation and information about the illnesses released by the
CDC this week.

All of the packages recalled include the code "Est. P-963" on
the label, according to Cargill. The packages were labeled with
many different brands, including Cargill's Honeysuckle White.

The CDC said this week that cultures of ground turkey from four
retail locations between March 7 and June 27 showed contamination
with the same strain of salmonella, though those samples had not
been specifically linked to the illnesses. The CDC said preliminary
information showed that three of those samples were linked to the
same production establishment, but it did not name that plant.

A chart on the CDC's website shows cases have occurred every
month since early March, with spikes in May and early June. The
latest reported cases were in mid-July, although the CDC said some
recent cases may not have been reported yet.

The CDC said the strain is resistant to many commonly prescribed
antibiotics, which can make treatment more difficult. The agency
said 38 percent of those sickened were hospitalized.

The states with the highest number sickened were Michigan and
Ohio, 10 illnesses each, while nine illnesses were reported in
Texas. Illinois had seven, California six and Pennsylvania five.

The remaining states have between one and three reported
illnesses linked to the outbreak, according to the CDC: Alabama,
Arizona, Georgia, Iowa, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana,
Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, North Carolina,
Nebraska, Nevada, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota,
Tennessee and Wisconsin.

The CDC estimates that 50 million Americans each year get sick
from food poisoning, including about 3,000 who die. Salmonella
causes most of these cases and federal health officials say they've
made virtually no progress against it.

Government officials say that even contaminated ground turkey is
safe to eat if it is cooked to 165 degrees. But it's also important
that raw meat be handled properly before it is cooked and that
people wash their hands with soap for at least 20 seconds before
and after handling the meat. Turkey and other meats should also be
properly refrigerated or frozen and leftovers heated.

The most common symptoms of salmonella are diarrhea, abdominal
cramps and fever within eight hours to 72 hours of eating a
contaminated product. It can be life-threatening to some with
weakened immune systems.

Cargill executive Willardsen said, "Public health and the
safety of consumers cannot be compromised."

"It is regrettable that people may have become ill from eating
one of our ground turkey products," he said, "and, for anyone who
did, we are truly sorry."


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