Cargill Recalls 36 Million Pounds of Ground Turkey

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NEW YORK (MainStreet) —Cargill Meat Solutions Corporation recalled approximately 36 million pounds of ground turkey products Wednesday after discovering that they may be contaminated with a drug-resistant strain of salmonella, the Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service said.

A spokesperson from the USDA said that the Cargill recall is the third largest food recall currently on record. The recall follows a government investigation into an outbreak of Salmonella Heidelberg that has sickened 78 individuals across 26 states between March 1 and Aug. 3 and led to one death in California.

According to the Cargill, all products involved in the recall were manufactured at a Springdale, Ark. facility from Feb. 20 to Aug. 2.  They have the number "P-963" inside the USDA mark of inspection on the packaging.  Both the manufacturer and the USDA have a full list of the specific products involved in the recall on their websites.

Cargill also said, when announcing the recall, that it will suspend production of ground turkey products at its Springdale, Ark., turkey processing facility until it is able to determine the source of the outbreak.

“Suspending production until we can determine the source of the Salmonella Heidelberg at our Arkansas facility, and take corrective action, is the right thing to do,” Steve Willardsen, president of Cargill’s turkey processing business, said in a written statement. “We are closely examining every aspect of our production process and have identified enhancements to our procedures in our efforts to ensure safe food.

As we have previously reported, most people infected with salmonella generally develop diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps 12 to 72 hours after exposure. Infections can be life-threatening, especially to those with weak immune systems, such as infants, the elderly and persons with HIV infection or undergoing chemotherapy.

However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Monday that the strain involved in the outbreak carries an increased risk of hospitalization or possible treatment failure since Salmonella Heidelberg is resistant to many common antibiotics.

The USDA said that consumers who have the products involved in the recall should return them immediately to their place of purchase.  They also reiterated that in an attempt to prevent salmonellosis and other foodborne illnesses, consumers should wash their hands with warm, soapy water for at least 20 seconds before and after handling raw meat and poultry, and should cook poultry (including ground turkey) to 165 degrees Fahrenheit, as determined with a food thermometer.

“Public health and the safety of consumers cannot be compromised,” Willardsen said. “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.”

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