Food & Drink

A week before Thanksgiving, a ground turkey recall linked to a deadly salmonella outbreak

What is salmonella and how do you keep from getting it?

Salmonella causes about 1.2 million illnesses and 450 deaths in the U.S. every year, according to the CDC. The bacteria is typically transmitted through contaminated food, but some simple preventative measures can keep you from getting sick.
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Salmonella causes about 1.2 million illnesses and 450 deaths in the U.S. every year, according to the CDC. The bacteria is typically transmitted through contaminated food, but some simple preventative measures can keep you from getting sick.

Jennie-O Turkey Store Sales’ recall of 91,000 pounds of ground turkey products late Thursday night is the first supplier link to a salmonella outbreak that has sickened 164 people in 35 states and caused one death.

Though the recall covers ground turkey, the Centers for Disease Control reiterated in last week’s outbreak update, “The outbreak strain of Salmonella Reading is present in live turkeys and in many types of raw turkey products, indicating it might be widespread in the turkey industry.”

Also, Thursday’s USDA-Food Safety Inspection Service recall notice notes, ”Patients have reported eating different types and brands of turkey products purchased from many different stores, handling raw turkey pet food and/or raw turkey, or working with live turkeys or living with someone who handled live turkeys.”

As a map of the outbreak shows, it’s rambled across regions with double-digit illnesses in California (13), New York (12), Minnesota (17), Illinois (17), Texas (11). The death was in California. Seven Floridians have been counted in this outbreak.

But there hadn’t been a recall of any products until Thursday, after the USDA, CDC and Arizona Department of Health Services did a traceback from a sample of Jennie-O ground turkey from the home of a salmonella sufferer. The person had Salmonellla Reading and the sample tested positive for a strain that matches the outbreak’s strain.

All of the products came in one-pound packs with Use By dates of Oct. 1 or Oct. 2. But the USDA and CDC worry that, similar to the salmonella beef outbreak that the CDC updated Thursday, many packs are frozen salmonella bombs in freezers around the nation.

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And consumers with Jennie-O Ground Turkey 93% Lean, Taco Seasoned Ground Turkey, Ground Turkey 85% Lean and Italian Seasoned Ground Turkey in their freezers should toss them out or return them to the store for a full refund. Those with questions can call Jennie-O at 1-800-621-3505, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Eastern time, Monday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Eastern time, Saturday and Sunday.

Food safety tips when cooking with raw turkey:

Wash your hands before dealing with the turkey and before you work with anything else after each time you touch the turkey. If you use gloves, change them regularly and don’t use the same gloves to do any other cooking or cleaning tasks.

Cook food to an internal temperature of 165 degrees. You don’t need a big, metal commercial grade thermometer. Most stores have disposable meat, pork or poultry thermometers.

After cooking, what is not being consumed soon after needs to be refrigerated as soon as possible.

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