August 15, 2020

Senators Ask USDA For Information About Deadly Salmonella Outbreak Linked to Raw Turkey

Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) have sent a letter to the USDA to ask them to provide the public with more information about the deadly multidrug-resistant Salmonella Reading outbreak linked to raw turkey products.

Salmonella Reading turkey outbreak

The letter reads, in part, “USDA’s failure to provide identifying information for contaminated turkey to the public in advance of the holiday season is simply unconscionable. As such, we demand that you reverse course and immediately disclose the names of the slaughter facilities and processing plants—and, if possible, the consumer-level brand names—linked to this dangerous outbreak, so that Americans across the country can come together without worrying for the safety of their friends, family, and loved ones.” The USDA did release a recall of raw ground Jennie-O turkey products just before Thanksgiving, but no other recalls or notices have been posted. ”

The government has put the onus on consumers to protect themselves against this deadly outbreak, with warnings to always handle raw turkey products with care and to make sure the turkey is fully cooked to a safe final internal temperature. But the main problem is that cross-contamination between the raw meat and consumers’ kitchens is going to be an issue. It’s almost impossible to prevent contact between raw turkey juices and surfaces in the kitchen.

The Senators want the USDA to release the names of the slaughter facilities and processing plants that are linked to this outbreak. The CDC’s July 19, 2018 notice about the outbreak stated that, “The outbreak strain of Salmonella Reading has been identified in samples from raw turkey pet food in Minnesota, from raw turkey products from 19 slaughter and 6 processing establishments, and from live turkeys from several states.” Those are the facilities the senators want identified.

Another issue with this outbreak is that the strain of Salmonella Reading that has sickened so many people is resistant to many antibiotics. The Salmonella Reading bacteria contained genes for resistance to “all of some of the following antibiotics: ampicillin, streptomycin, sulfamethoxazole, tetracycline, gentamicin, and kanamycin,” according to the CDC. That means that people may be sicker and their infections may be harder to treat.

The symptoms of Salmonella food poisoning include a fever, nausea, vomiting, muscle aches, and diarrhea that may be bloody. If you have handled raw turkey and have been ill, see your doctor.

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