Cargill’s Wichita-based turkey business is bringing in some outside experts to look at food safety at its Springdale, AR turkey processing facility, which on Aug. 3 recalled 36 million pounds of ground turkey.
Cargill recalled the ground turkey after the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta linked the product to an outbreak of Salmonella Heidelberg involving at least 111 confirmed cases in 31 states.
After a brief cessation of turkey production in Arkansas, Cargill resumed operations with “enhanced” procedures that it said were approved by USDA. It claims it now has “the most aggressive Salmonella monitoring and testing program in the poultry industry.”
Now it has named Michael Doyle from the University of Georgia’s Center for Food Safety; Barbara Masters, the former administrator of USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS); and Craig W. Hedberg from the University of Minnesota’s Division of Environmental Health Sciences, to a review panel.
The panel will “look at the entire process from live animal operations through ground turkey production,” according to Steve Willardsen, Cargill’s president of turkey processing.
During a shutdown that last about two weeks, Cargill disassembled and steam-cleaned equipment. It started requiring suppliers to add a wash, and it has added two anti-bacterial washes at its processing plant. Intensifying an existing anti-bacterial system was also part of the new program.
Minneapolis-based Cargill is an international food and agricultural company with operations in 63 countries. It recently reported annual revenue of just under $120 billion.