August 4, 2011. Atlanta. Agricultural giant Cargill announced yesterday it is recalling 36 million pounds of ground turkey. For months, Federal and State regulators have been trying to trace the source of a deadly salmonella outbreak that has killed one and sickened 77 in 26 states. Due to Cargill’s practice of regularly feeding their turkeys antibiotics as a method to control sickness and stimulate growth, this particular salmonella outbreak is worrying officials because of its resistance to most antibiotics.
After months of investigating, the source of the salmonella outbreak is still a mystery. The first cases began popping up in late February and early March of this year. The most recent case, according to the CDC, was discovered only three days ago. According to the data released, the ages of those infected range from 1 to 88 and the region most heavily hit is the Great Lakes area. Ohio, Michigan and Illinois represent three of the top four states hit with Texas rounding out the list.
Immediate symptoms of salmonella infection include diarrhea, abdominal pain and fever. Those are followed by chills, headaches, nausea and vomiting. In more than one-third of the 77 cases so far, victims required hospitalization for treatment.
The ground turkey recall by Cargill is one of the largest turkey recalls in history. Since many consumers freeze ground turkey for future use and since the salmonella outbreak began at the beginning of this year, Cargill is recalling ground turkey dating as far back as February 20, 2011. Denying any wrongdoing or any evidence that their turkey is the source of the outbreak, Cargill voluntarily recalled 36 million pounds of its product.
“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” Cargill’s Steve Willardsen announced. Willardsen is President of Cargill’s turkey processing unit.
According to the CDC, the number of ill persons identified in each state is as follows: AL (1), AZ (2), CA (6), GA (1), IA (1), IL (7), IN (1), KY (2), LA (1), MA (1), MI (10), MN (1), MO (2), MS (1), NC (1), NE (2), NV (1), NY (2), OH (10), OK (1), OR (1), PA (5), SD (3), TN (2), TX (9), and WI (3).
For months, turkey producers have fought any connection the recent deadly salmonella outbreak. Citing no concrete link between infected individuals and with no luck finding the source of the outbreak, Federal officials and the CDC can only speculate on the culprit. One investigative survey however, changed all that.
While interviewing 51 of the victims, the CDC discovered that 49 percent admitted eating ground turkey recently. In comparison, the national average for people consuming ground turkey is only 11 percent. With literally one in every two sickened individuals reporting they consumed ground turkey, officials have narrowed their search to turkey or turkey related products and facilities. While illnesses have spread over the past 5 months, signs show that the numbers are slowly decreasing. That’s good news for investigators who still haven’t been able to narrow down the source.