Turkey Recall

US: Massive record-breaking turkey recall after salmonella outbreak

Cargill has initiated the third-biggest recall in US history, pulling almost 36 million pounds (16,363m kilograms) of ground turkey after an outbreak of multi-drug resistant strain of Salmonella Heidelberg linked to one death and 79 illnesses in 26 states.

The Cargill Meat Solutions unit halted ground-turkey output at the Springdale, Arkansas plant that may have produced tainted meat from Feb 20 to Aug 2, Wayzata, Minnesota-based Cargill has said. The recall was prompted by an internal investigation and information from the government and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“It is regrettable that people may have become ill from eating one of our ground-turkey products and, for anyone who did, we are truly sorry,” said Steve Willardsen, the president of Cargill’s turkey-processing business.

Output of ground turkey was halted in Springdale based on information gathered since July 29, though no definite source of the outbreak has been found, Willardsen said. The company’s other three US turkey-processing plants will remain in operation.

Ground turkey – like ground chicken – is a high risk food for Salmonella contamination. While turkey meat is perceived to be a healthy choice compared to ground beef, the relatively high baseline level of Salmonella in poultry products raises substantially the risk of undercooking and cross-contamination during handling.

CDC and FSIS are reminding consumers that, for safety, raw ground poultry must be cooked to an internal temperature of 165ºF – and that the final temperature must be verified using a meat thermometer. Neither cooking for a specific number of minutes nor relying on the colour of the meat, is a safe way to determine when ground poultry – or any raw meat – has been thoroughly cooked.

Record-breaking recall

According to Food Safety News, this recall of ground turkey is the third largest recall on record, but it actually is the largest Class I recall ever.

USDA/FSIS defines a Class I Recall as:
. . . a health hazard situation where there is a reasonable probability that the use of the product will cause serious, adverse health consequences or death.

Here are its top dirty half dozen Class I Recalls:

Number 1According to FSIS, on August 3, 2011 Cargill Meat Solutions recalled approximately 36,000,000 pounds of ground turkey products that may be contaminated with a multi-drug resistant strain of Salmonella Heidelberg. Cultures of four ground turkey samples purchased from four retail locations between March 7 and June 27, 2011, yielded Salmonella Heidelberg with the outbreak strain.

PFGE patterns from these Salmonella that matched the outbreak strain were added to the PulseNet database between April 11 and July 12; approximately a month after each sample was collected. According to CDC, a total of 78 persons infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Heidelberg have been reported from 26 states between March 1 and August 3, 2011.

There has been one death. PulseNet first received reports of a small number of cases with the outbreak strain beginning in March 2011, and reported cases increased in mid-May and late June. Illnesses that occurred after July 8, 2011 may not yet be counted.

Number 2 – According to FSIS, on December 22, 2000, Bil Mar Foods, owned by Sara Lee, recalled 35,000,000 pounds of specific production lots of hot dogs and deli meats that may have been contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes, serotype 4b. CDC later isolated the outbreak from an opened and a previously unopened package of hot dogs manufactured at the company’s plant in Zeeland, Michigan.

According to the CDC, 100 illnesses caused by a rare strain of the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes, serotype 4b; were reported to CDC by 22 states.

A total of 21 deaths were reported, including 15 adults and 6 miscarriages/stillbirths. Reported illness onset dates were during August 2, 1998-February 8, 1999.

Number 3 – According to FSIS, on October 12, 2002 Pilgrim’s Pride Corporation, doing business as Wampler Foods, recalled approximately 27,400,000 pounds of fresh and frozen ready-to-eat turkey and chicken products that may have been contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes. According to the CDC, 46 ill persons infected with the outbreak strain of Listeria had been detected since mid-July; most were hospitalized, seven died, and three pregnant women had miscarriages or stillbirths.

Number 4 – According to FSIS, on August 12, 1997 the Hudson Foods Company recalled approximately 25,000,000 pounds of frozen ground beef patties distributed nationwide, because the product may have been contaminated with Escherichia coli O157:H7 bacteria.

According to CDC, on August 7, 1997, CDPHE’s state public health laboratory reported that 15 (56%) of 27 E. coli O157:H7 isolates submitted for routine molecular subtyping since June 1 were characterized by highly related pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) patterns; the PFGE patterns of 13 (87%) of 15 isolates were indistinguishable (outbreak strain). The patterns of the remaining two isolates were indistinguishable from each other and differed from the outbreak strain by only one band. These isolates were cultured from stool specimens obtained from 15 patients who had onsets of illness during June 14-July 14.

Hudson Foods beef burgers collected from the freezers of two of the 15 patients bore the identical lot number (156A7); both yielded E. coli O157:H7 when cultured at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) Food Safety and Inspection Service Laboratory in Athens, Georgia. The PFGE pattern from one isolate cultured from ground beef was indistinguishable from the outbreak strain. Onsets of illness were from June 14-July 14, 1997.

Number 5 – According to FSIS, on September 29, 2007 Topps Meat Company, recalled 21,700,000 pounds of frozen ground beef products because they may have been contaminated with E. coli O157:H7. According to CDC, 40 cases of E. coli O157:H7 infection were identified with PFGE patterns that matched at least one of the patterns of E. coli strains found in Topp’s brand frozen ground beef patties.

Number 6 – According to FSIS, on July 19, 2002 ConAgra Beef Company recalled approximately 19 million pounds of beef trim and fresh and frozen ground beef products that may have been contaminated with E. coli O157:H7. According to CDC, during July 2002, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) identified an outbreak of Escherichia coli O157:H7 infections among Colorado residents. Epidemiologic and laboratory investigation linked 28 illnesses in Colorado and six other states to eating contaminated ground beef products recalled by ConAgra Beef Company on June 30, 2002. Seven patients were hospitalized; five developed hemolytic-uremic syndrome (HUS) and one died.