Just a week ahead of Thanksgiving, US health officials are recalling more than 91,000 lbs of raw turkey amid a deadly salmonella outbreak linked to the poultry.
One person in California has died and another 63 have been hospitalized after contracting the infection.
Health officials warn that the outbreak be ‘widespread in the turkey industry.’
So far, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has confirmed that Jennie-O ground turkey tested positive for the bacteria that has sickened at least 164 people in 35 states.
The USDA and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are warning Americans to use great care in handling and making sure turkey is fully cooked.
US Department of Agriculture officials have now recalled 91,000 lbs of Jennie-O ground turkey for salmonella contamination – but warn that other turkey samples are contaminated too
2018 IS THE SECOND THANKSGIVING IN A ROW AFFECTED BY SALMONELLA
The current salmonella outbreak began a year ago – around the time of Last Thanksgiving.
Now, illnesses from the common bacteria have been reported in 35 states.
In July the CDC reported that 90 people had been sickened, causing diarrhea, fever, nausea, vomiting, chills and headaches.
But the contamination appears to have persisted, as another 74 people have fallen ill since then.
As the number of infections has continued to climb, the USDA has begun testing samples.
Tests of Jennie-O ground turkey – sold at Walmart and Target – that was packaged on September 11 of this year revealed salmonella that matched the strain Americans have been sickened by.
Those packages have long expired (on October 1 or 2), but officials fear they won’t be the last to spread the bacteria.
At least 164 people have fallen ill and one has died after contracting salmonella from raw turkey, according to the CDC’s latest figures. The outbreak may affect many more turkeys
THE OUTBREAK MAY BE ‘WIDESPREAD’ IN TURKEY
Products from Jennie-O are distributed far and wide across the country, and the CDC have struggled to pinpoint the contamination’s origin.
This difficulty has made the agency worry that salmonella could still be lurking in many turkey products – an unwelcome guest at next week’s festivities.
Salmonella has been found recently in a variety of raw turkey products as well as in pet turkey food and live turkeys – suggesting it could be anywhere the birds have been.
Until they can track the source of the bacteria, the CDC and FDA don’t expect Americans to skip out on their turkey feasts this year, but they are urging everyone to take extra safety and sanitation precautions.
Salmonella outbreaks happen when foods come into contact with the feces of animals that are already infected. People get infected when they eat food products from those animals.
Bacteria like these can contaminate just about any food, but are particularly common in poultry, eggs and other meats due to the environments these animals live in.
More than a million Americans catch salmonella each year, 20,000 are hospitalized and 400 (most often children and the elderly) die.
But simple precautions can considerably reduce the risks of getting sick.
Besides the Jennie-O recall, the USDA is leaving most raw turkey on the shelves but urging Thanksgiving cooks not to cut corners, be sure to wash their hands and cook their birds well
AVOID SALMONELLA BY SPENDING A COUPLE EXTRA MINUTES ON CLEANLINESS AND COOKING
Many people get salmonella because they touch contaminated food then touch their mouths and unknowingly ingest the microscopic bacteria.
Thorough hand-washing can prevent this from happening, however.
When preparing your Thanksgiving bird this year, be sure to run your hands under warm or cold water, then turn off the faucet.
Any soap will do, so long as you apply it amply to your hands, distribute it to both sides, the fingers and the spaces between them, then rub until the soap is lathered up.
Keep scrubbing for 20 seconds (or the duration of the Happy Birthday song) before rinsing your hands. Make sure the towel you dry them with is clean, or let your hands air dry.
This must be done both before and immediately after handling raw turkey.
Consumer Reports says to always wash your hands – but never wash your raw turkey. The water might just spread the bacteria around the meat.
Make sure to similarly clean any surface the uncooked poultry touches.
Cooking turkey to 160 F will kill any bacteria. If it is not cooked through, some bacteria might survive the oven.
Recipes and cook books may advise that you can tell when your poultry is cooked by looking for an even, white color inside, not predominantly pink.
But this is not the year to eyeball-it. The most surefire way to ensure your turkey is delicious and safe is to test the center of it with a meat thermometer.
If you do find yourself feeling ill after Thanksgiving dinner – beyond the usual over-stuffed feeling – for more than a few days, see your doctor.
Most people clear the infection within three to seven days without treatment, but if a fever persists, you may need antibiotics and perhaps an IV to get you hydrated again.