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Cargill Recalls Ground Turkey after Salmonella Outbreak

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Meat manufacturing giant Cargill is recalling 36 million pounds of ground turkey products that may have been linked to a nationwide outbreak of salmonella. At least 76 people have become ill after eating the turkey and one man has died.

Cargill supplies fresh and frozen meat to California retailers such as Food 4 Less, WinCo and Foods Co. Their products appear on grocery store shelves under the brand names of Kroger, Honeysuckle White and Riverside, according to the state Department of Public Health spokesman Mike Sicilia.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that this strain of Salmonella Heidelberg is resistant to numerous commonly prescribed antibiotics and is often difficult to treat. Ground turkey cultures from four locations taken between March 7 and June 27 showed they were contaminated with the same strain of salmonella. Due to the CDC’s findings, Cargill announced on Wednesday a voluntary recall of ground turkey products produced at the company’s Springdale, AR, plant from Feb. 20 through Aug. 2.

The affliction spans across 26 states, with California, Michigan, Ohio, Texas, Illinois and Pennsylvania among the most affected by the outbreak. Symptoms of salmonella include fever, diarrhea and abdominal pain, and can be fatal to young children, older people and those with compromised immune systems.

State food safety chief Pat Kennelly urges Californians to check refrigerators and freezers and dispose of any tainted turkey by putting it in a tied garbage bag and washing hands thoroughly afterward. Salmonella can be killed by cooking, and public health officials say ground poultry should be heated to 165 degrees, as measured by a meat thermometer. However, people may also be infected through cross-contamination in the kitchen, as when utensils or cutting boards used for raw turkey meat come in contact with other food.

The state is now working with Cargill and the United States Department of Agriculture to identify all distributors and isolate any other locations where tainted meat may have been sold, Kennelly said.

Images by andrewmalone and denn via Flickr.

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