The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a warning on Thursday that despite the ground turkey recall, meat contaminated with salmonella bacteria may still be in home refrigerators and grocery stores.
The top CDC official, Dr. Chris Braden, said 22 of the 78 people diagnosed with salmonella bacteria have been hospitalized.
The outbreak has been detected in over 25 states
"Ground turkey has a long shelf life, so contaminated ground turkey may still be in grocery stores or freezers at home,” said Braden, “We're urging people to check packaging on any ground turkey in their homes."
Federal health officials announced Thursday that the Salmonella Heidelberg strain might be more resistant than normal strains to antibiotics.
This could lead to larger hospitalization rates, they say.
On Wednesday, major meat processor Cargill recalled 36 million pounds of ground turkey that might be infected with the salmonella bacteria.
The suspicious fresh and frozen ground turkey products were processed between February 20 and August 2, at the Arkansas plant. The recalled meat was sent to grocery stores and other locations in 26 states.
Cargill has stopped ground turkey production until the source of the bacteria is 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.
This recall is one of the largest linked to the outbreak of an illness, said William Marler, a Seattle lawyer who specializes in food poisoning cases.
Cargill said a lot of the contaminated ground turkey was sent to Kroger Co. stores.
According to the company, some of the spoiled meat was sold under the Honeysuckle White brand.
The recall includes a long list of products such as Honeysuckle White Ground Turkey Patties, Honeysuckle White Seasoned Italian Style Ground Turkey with Natural Flavorings, Shady Brook Farms Ground Turkey Burgers and trays of Kroger Ground Turkey Fresh, said the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
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.