December 8, 2019

Salmonella Turkey is Still a Problem, With Thanksgiving Approaching

Salmonella turkey is still a problem with the Thanksgiving holiday approaching, according to a report in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Report (MMWR) for the week of November 22, 2019. Last year, a huge turkey recall linked to a Salmonella outbreak hit the U.S. just before Thanksgiving. And the problem hasn’t gone away, according to government officials.

Salmonella Turkey is Still a Problem, With Thanksgiving Approaching

A multistate outbreak of Salmonella Reading food poisoning cases occurred from November 17 through March 2019. A total of 356 people in 42 states were sickened. What’s noteworthy is that the MMWR report states that “cases continue to be identified.”

What Types of Turkey are the Problem?

The patients told investigators they were exposed to various turkey products and live turkeys, suggesting that this issue is endemic in the turkey industry. The report suggests that officials should target all parts of the turkey supply chain to find problems before they cause an outbreak.

The types of turkey that patients were exposed to before they got sick ranged from ground turkey, raw turkey pet food, live turkeys, and raw turkey products such as turkey breast. The outbreak strain of Salmonella Reading was identified in 178 samples of raw turkey products collected by FSIS and in 120 retail turkey samples. The outbreak strain was also found in 10 samples from live turkeys in different states.

Four recalls were issued during the time the outbreak was being investigated, including ground turkey, raw turkey pet food, and raw turkey products.

As a result, CDC and FSIS shared results with the National Turkey Federation and asked about steps the members could take to reduce Salmonella contamination in their products. This was done because no single product or common supplier was identified in the huge Salmonella outbreak.

Lawyer Fred Pritzker

Food safety attorney Fred Pritzker said, “No food contaminated with enough bacteria to make you sick should be sold in this country. But here we are. Take steps to protect yourself and your family.” If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with food poisoning, you can contact Fred for help by calling 1-888-377-8900 or 612-338-0202.

The report says, “Evidence demonstrated that the outbreak strain was present throughout the turkey industry in live turkeys and in raw turkey products meant for human and animal consumption.” This was not the first time turkey products caused human illness; a Salmonella Heidelberg outbreak was associated with ground turkey in 2014, and a Salmonella Hader outbreak was associated with turkey burgers in 2011. This year, a Salmonella Schwarzengrund outbreak associated with ground turkey sickened 7.

How Can You Protect Your Family?

The reports ends with the typical consumer information about handling raw turkey carefully, keeping it separate from other foods, especially those eaten raw, and cooking it thoroughly to 165°F using a food thermometer. The report did state, though, that “Although elimination of Salmonella from poultry flocks and products is challenging, the responsibility to develop effective strategies for Salmonella reduction along the production chain begins with industry.”

So how can you protect yourself  and your family during Thanksgiving meal preparations if there may be an inherent Salmonella turkey risk? There are safer ways to cook turkey, including cooking it from the frozen state, and tips from various agencies on how to stuff it (or not) and cook it safely. Wash your hands well with soap and water after handling any raw poultry, and clean countertops, utensils, and plates and platters used while you are preparing the raw poultry. And watch out for cross-contamination in the fridge and while you’re working.

 

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