Major meat processor, Cargill has recalled approximately 36 million pounds of ground turkey as part of a salmonella scare on Wednesday.
The Arkansas plant processed the suspicious fresh and frozen ground turkey products between February 20 and August 2, the company stated in a press release.
The U.S. wide outbreak involved the bacteria strain, Salmonella Heidelberg, which has a resistance to most antibiotics,
To date the bacteria has killed one person and made 76 other people, in twenty-six states, ill.
Cargill has suspended the production of ground turkey in the Springdale, Arkansas, plant until the source of the bacteria strain can be determined.
“It is regrettable that people may have become ill from eating one of our ground turkey products and, for anyone who did, we are truly sorry,” Steve Willardsen, president of Cargill’s turkey processing business, said in a written statement.
William Marler, a Seattle lawyer who specializes in food poisoning cases said, “The recall is one of the largest associated with the outbreak of an illness.”
Cargill announced that some of the spoiled ground turkey was sold under the Honeysuckle White brand in supermarkets.
Customers can return any opened or unopened packages of ground turkey items found on Cargill’s website (www.cargill.com/turkey-recall/) to the stores where they were bought for a refund.
Federal data found that 10 to 15 percent of ground turkey is usually contaminated with salmonella. Public health officials say ground poultry should be cooked at 165 degrees – salmonella is killed when the meat is cooked.
However, people can also be infected through cross-contamination, for example if utensils used in handling the raw meat comes in contact with other food.
The first occurrences of sickness linked to the current outbreak were recorded in early March. There have been numerous cases since then and officials say the illnesses will continue to increase because there is usually a time lapse in reporting new cases.
President of the National Turkey Federation Joel Brandenberger said, around five billion pounds of ready-to-cook turkey meat is sold each year. This is double what it was forty years ago and works out to be 17 to 18 pounds of turkey per person per year, said Brandenberger.
Those infected with salmonella will experience diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps 12 to 72 hours after being contaminated. The illness lasts four to seven days and most people will get better without the use of medication. Severe cases can lead to blood poisoning.
The Agriculture Department, said on Tuesday, that it did not have any evidence that definitely linked any particular company to the outbreak.