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36 Million Pounds of Ground Turkey Recalled in Salmonella Outbreak
Ground turkey from one of the country's largest meat processors has been linked to a national outbreak of sickness caused by a strain of salmonella found to be resistant to many commonly prescribed antibiotics. So far 76 cases plus 1 death have been reported from 26 states since March 2011, and more reports are expected. The meat was sold by Cargill Value Added Meats Retail, and shipped from their Springdale, Arkansas plant.
All of the packages recalled include the code "Est. P-963" on the label, Cargill told the Associated Press. The packages were labeled with many different brands, including Cargill's Honeysuckle White.
On its website, Cargill lists brands of raw turkey products including Marval, Honeysuckle White and RiverSide.
Federal data shows that 10 to 15 percent of ground turkey typically is contaminated with salmonella.
A federal data from tests in 2009 also showed that more than three-quarters of salmonella samples found on ground turkey was resistant to at least one type of antibiotic. Bacteria can develop resistance after being exposed to antibiotics that are routinely used in raising poultry or other food animals.
Salmonella is killed by cooking, and public health officials say ground poultry should be heated to 165 degrees, as measured by a meat thermometer.
But people can also be infected through cross-contamination in the kitchen, such as when utensils or cutting boards used for raw turkey meat come in contact with other food.
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.