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Food Safety News

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Death in California Linked to Ground Turkey; Still No Recall

California state health officials confirmed Tuesday that the nationwide

Salmonella Heidelberg outbreak linked to ground turkey has claimed one

life in Sacramento County. According to the Centers for Disease Control

and Prevention, the antibiotic-resistant salmonella strain, which has

been found in ground turkey samples, is responsible for a total of 77

illnesses in 26 states, but federal food safety officials are not

implicating any one company or initiating a recall.

“Despite an

extensive investigation by [USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service]

and CDC to date, there is little epidemiological information available

at this time that conclusively links these illnesses to any specific

product or establishment,” said FSIS spokesman Neil Gaffney. “Without

specific enough data, it would not be appropriate to issue a recall

notice. FSIS is committed to continuing this investigation in order to

obtain the additional information necessary to find the source of this

outbreak, and take appropriate action to protect public health.”

The agency, which is charged with assuring the safety of the nation’s meat, poultry, and processed egg products, issued a public health alert

on Friday urging consumers to use caution when handling raw turkey and

to, as always, cook all poultry products to an internal temperature of

165 degrees. The most recent CDC update says officials found four retail

ground turkey samples to be positive for the same strain of Salmonella

Heidelberg between early March and late June.


information indicates that three of these products originated from a

common production establishment; the fourth is still under

investigation,” according to CDC. The samples were maintained as part of

routine sampling for the National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring

System (NARMS), and have “not been linked to illnesses.” Salmonella is

not considered in adulterant in meat products, so a positive sample does

not automatically spark a recall. .

Local, state and federal

public health officials are collecting information (such as date and

location of purchase of ground turkey) from ill persons to conduct

traceback investigations, according to CDC.

More than half the

states are reporting at least one illness, among them, California,

Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Wisconsin have the

most people linked to the outbreak.

California is reporting two

illnesses, including the fatality, in Sacramento county, as well as four

other cases in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Riverside counties.


reported seven illnesses, with a broad range of ages–from three to 60.

Press accounts say Illinois Department of Public health confirmed

illnesses are from Oak Park and Cass, DuPage, Madison, Peoria, Will and

Williamson counties.  Illnesses ranged from March to late June.


Michigan, ten residents have been linked to the outbreak, including six

in Wayne County, and four individuals in Genesee, Bay, Berrien and

Eaton counties. A Michigan Department of Health official told news

outlets illnesses were reported between May 7 and July 2.


adults and an infant in Wisconsin–from Dane, Kenosha and Milwaukee

counties–have been linked to the outbreak. A State Department of Health

Services spokeswoman told local media that one person was hospitalized

but all have recovered. Illnesses spanned between April and early June.


Ohio, illnesses began for ten residents between April 22 to June 26,

according to the Ohio health department. Seven were males, ranging in

age from five to 72, three from Cuyahoga County, and others from

Franklin, Lake, Lorain, Lucas Mongomery, Summit, and Warren counties,

according to local press accounts.

Pennsylvania has five cases

and Texas is reporting nine. Arizona, Kentucky, Missouri, Nebraska, New

York, and Tennessee all have reported two cases each. Alabama, Georgia,

Iowa, Indiana, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, Oklahoma,

and Oregon have one each, according to CDC.

Cargill under investigation

Late Tuesday night, the New York Times reported that meat and poultry giant Cargill has been contacted as part of the federal investigation into the cause of the outbreak.


company and it’s subsidiaries market a wide variety of turkey products,

including Marval, Honeysuckle White, and Riverside brands.


are cooperating with the agency’s ongoing investigation into the source

of the illnesses,” Mike Martin, a Cargill spokesman, said in an e-mail

message to the Times.

© Food Safety News