Meat giant Cargill is recalling 16.33 million kilograms of ground turkey linked to a nationwide salmonella outbreak that has killed one person in California and sickened at least 76 other people.
Illnesses in the outbreak date back to March and have been reported in 26 states coast to coast.
Cargill said on Wednesday that it is recalling fresh and frozen ground turkey products produced at the company’s Springdale, Arkansas, plant from Feb. 20 to Tuesday due to possible contamination from the strain of salmonella linked to the illnesses.
Company officials said that all ground turkey production has been suspended at the plant until the company is able to determine the source of the outbreak.
“Given our concern for what has happened and our desire to do what is right for our consumers and customers, we are voluntarily removing our ground turkey products from the marketplace,” said Steve Willardsen, president of Cargill’s turkey processing business.
The Minnesota-based company said it was initiating the recall after its own internal investigation, a US Department of Agriculture investigation and information about the illnesses released by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) this week.
The CDC said this week that cultures of ground turkey from four retail locations between March 7 and June 27 showed contamination with the same strain of salmonella, though those samples had not been specifically linked to the illnesses. The CDC said preliminary information showed that three of those samples were linked to the same production establishment, but it did not name the plant.
A chart on the CDC’s Web site shows cases have occurred every month since early March, with spikes in May and early June. The latest reported cases were in the middle of last month, although the CDC said some recent cases may not have been reported yet.
The CDC estimates that 50 million Americans each year get sick from food poisoning, including about 3,000 who die. Salmonella causes most of these cases and federal health officials say they have made virtually no progress against it.
The most common symptoms of salmonella are diarrhea, abdominal cramps and fever within eight hours to 72 hours of eating a contaminated product. It can be life-threatening to some with weakened immune systems.