The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is conducting an investigation with federal, state and local agencies into a recent outbreak of food poisoning due to Salmonella-tainted ground turkey. The outbreak has been tied to one death and 76 illnesses in 26 states.
Information from the CDC and the U.S. Department of Agriculture has been limited because the investigation is still underway. However, the CDC reports that the Salmonella outbreak apparently started around March in at least 26 states: Alabama, Arizona, California, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin.
Preliminary investigations determined that the food poisoning can be traced to at least four undisclosed retail locations that sold the tainted meat. Three of those four retailers have been linked to one common, yet also undisclosed, meat provider.
The CDC told the Associated Press that the agency, and the FDA (which is responsible for food recalls) were "vigorously working to identify the specific contaminated product or products that are causing illnesses and will update the public on the progress of this investigation as information becomes available."
While the investigation continues into the source and spread of the Salmonella-tainted ground turkey, health officials remind consumers of the following safety tips:
- Wash hands, kitchen work surfaces, and utensils with soap and water immediately after they have been in contact with raw meat or poultry including frozen, fresh ground turkey. Then, disinfect the food contact surfaces using a freshly prepared solution of 1 tablespoon unscented liquid chlorine bleach to 1 gallon of water.
- Cook poultry thoroughly. Ground turkey and ground turkey dishes should always be cooked to 165 °F internal temperature as measured with a food thermometer; leftovers also should be reheated to 165 °F. The color of cooked poultry is not always a sure sign of its safety. Only by using a food thermometer can one accurately determine that poultry has reached a safe minimum internal temperature of 165 °F throughout the product. Turkey can remain pink even after cooking to a safe minimum internal temperature of 165 °F. The meat of smoked turkey is always pink. Be particularly careful with foods prepared for infants, older adults, and persons with impaired immune systems. For more information, please see this FSIS fact sheet about safe food handling.
- If served undercooked poultry in a restaurant, send it back to the kitchen for further cooking.
- Cross-contamination of foods should be avoided. Uncooked meats should be kept separate from produce, cooked foods, and ready-to-eat foods. Hands, cutting boards, counters, knives, and other utensils should be washed thoroughly after touching uncooked foods. Hands should be washed before handling food, and between handling different food items.
- Refrigerate raw and cooked meat and poultry within 2 hours after purchase (one hour if temperatures exceed 90° F). Refrigerate cooked meat and poultry within two hours after cooking. Refrigerators should be set to maintain a temperature of 40 °F or below.
- Persons who think they might have become ill from eating possibly contaminated ground turkey should consult their health care providers. Infants, older adults, and persons with impaired immune systems are more likely than others to develop severe illness.
Investigation Announcement: Multistate Outbreak of Human Salmonella Heidelberg Infections [US CDC]
CDC: 1 death, 76 illnesses linked to ground turkey [AP via Atlanta Journal Constitution]
Ground turkey blamed for salmonella death, outbreak [MSNBC]