Salmonellosis has swept the nation, with 76 illnesses and 1 death identified across 26 states. Beginning March 9 and continuing into August, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Center for Disease Control have followed reports of foodborne illness caused by Salmonella Heidelberg across the country. Cases have sprung up from Massachusetts to Arizona, with the lone death occurring in Sacramento, California.
On July 29, the Food Safety and Inspection Service of the USDA issued an alert about possible contamination of ground turkey, but had not yet determined specific brands under investigation. Just days later, meat producer Cargill announced a voluntary recall of fresh and frozen ground turkey from its Arkansas plant, believed to be the source of the outbreak. Cargill has halted production while they investigate the cause of contamination and also issued an apology to those who fell ill. With 36 million pounds of ground turkey recalled, this is one of the largest food recalls ever.
The Salmonella Heidelberg strain at the center of the outbreak is resistant to many antibiotics, creating significant problems in treatment. Signs of infection with salmonella include abdominal cramps, vomiting, and diarrhea. Symptoms usually begin 12-72 hours after exposure and can last 4-7 days. As a precaution, the CDC reminds that ground turkey must be cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Contaminated turkey, if properly cooked, will not cause illness.
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