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Enormous Cargill ground turkey recall expands: Part 2

As discussed in the previous post, an outbreak this summer of salmonella Heidelberg has led to the illnesses of at least 111 people across 31 states and the death of at least one person. In August, Cargill and the USDA announced a recall of 36 million pounds of ground turkey because the bacteria was traced to one of Cargill’s turkey processing plants.

The strain of bacteria is particularly dangerous to people because it is resistant to many antibiotics, which makes it difficult to treat people who have fallen ill after ingesting products contaminated with it.

Salmonella is generally not treated as seriously as E. coli (a dangerous bacteria that can be found in hamburger and be fatal to young children, older people and people with compromised immune systems), but some say that salmonella Heidelberg, especially, should be treated with more caution because of its resistance to many antibiotics and the difficulty of treating people who become ill from it.

Cargill announced the recall of 185,000 more pounds of ground turkey after its own tests showed that it was still present in the same plant. Cargill is being more proactive this time around and some say it should always be this way. The new recall involves fresh and frozen ground turkey and is labeled with the establishment number P-963. The recall includes products branded HEB, Kroger and Honeysuckle White. Customers can return recalled products to the store where they bought the products for a full refund.

Other salmonella-caused illnesses were reported last spring and resulted in two major fruit and vegetable recalls. The CDC and USDA recalled Del Monte Fresh Produce cantaloupes after it was found last March that the cantaloupes from Guatemala were contaminated with salmonella. Twenty people became ill from the contaminated cantaloupes as of June.

A Texas company recalled papayas that were contaminated with salmonella last July after 100 people in 23 states fell ill. Also in July, a company in Idaho that produces alfalfa and spicy sprouts recalled those products after salmonella contamination sickened at least 21 people in five states.

Source: Los Angeles Times, “More ground turkey is recalled over salmonella,” Hugo Martin, Sept. 12, 2011

John P. Aldrich
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