An outbreak of Salmonella Reading caused by raw turkey products has sickened 90 people in 26 states and hospitalization was already required in 44.4 percent of those cases, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta announced Thursday.
With the CDC announcement, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) said it is continuing to work with its federal partners to monitor a Salmonella Reading outbreak that may be associated with raw turkey products.
The agency said it has not identified a single source for this outbreak “at this time.”
FSIS reminded consumers to wash their hands thoroughly after handling any raw meat and poultry products, cook these products to the safe recommended temperature, and use a food thermometer.
Forty people have been hospitalized in the outbreak, which to date has not included any deaths.
Epidemiologic and laboratory evidence from CDC indicates that raw turkey products from a variety of sources are contaminated with Salmonella Reading and are making people sick.
In interviews, CDC said ill people report eating different types and brands of turkey products purchased from many different locations. Two ill people lived in a household where raw turkey pet food was fed to pets. The outbreak strain has been identified in samples taken from raw turkey pet food, raw turkey products, and live turkeys.
Like FSIS, CDC said a single, common supplier of raw turkey products or of live turkeys has not been identified.
The outbreak strain of Salmonella Reading is present in live turkeys and in many types of raw turkey products, indicating it might be widespread in the turkey industry, according to report. CDC and USDA-FSIS have shared this information with representatives from the turkey industry and asked about steps that they may be taking to reduce Salmonella contamination.
CDC is not advising that consumers avoid eating properly cooked turkey products, or that retailers stop selling raw turkey products.
CDC advises consumers to follow these steps to help prevent Salmonella infection from raw turkey:
- Always handle raw turkey carefully and cook it thoroughly to prevent food poisoning. This outbreak is a reminder that raw turkey products can have germs that spread around food preparation areas and can make people sick.
- Wash your hands. Salmonella infections can spread from one person to another. Wash hands before and after preparing or eating food, after contact with animals, and after using the restroom or changing diapers.
- Cook raw turkey thoroughly to kill harmful germs. Turkey breasts, whole turkeys, and ground poultry, including turkey burgers, casseroles, and sausage, should always be cooked to an internal temperature of 165°F to kill harmful germs. Leftovers should be reheated to 165°F. Use a food thermometer to check, and place it in the thickest part of the food.
- Don’t spread germs from raw turkey around food preparation areas. Washing raw poultry before cooking is not recommended. Germs in raw poultry juices can spread to other areas and foods. Thoroughly wash hands, counters, cutting boards, and utensils with warm, soapy water after they touch raw turkey. Use a separate cutting board for raw turkey and other raw meats if possible.
- CDC does not recommend feeding raw diets to pets. Germs like Salmonella in raw pet food can make your pets sick. Your family also can get sick by handling the raw food or by taking care of your pet.
CDC promises to update the advice to consumers and retailers if more information comes available, such as a supplier or type of raw turkey product linked to illness.