Ground turkey Salmonella-confirmed death reported in CA, recall not issued

Mechele R. Dillard's picture

USDA warns consumers about potential Salmonella in ground turkey, but the agency is still stopping short of issuing a recall, as the source of the outbreak has still not been positively identified.

UPDATED, Thursday, August 04, 2011, 10:19 a.m (ET)

A recall has been issued; read the current list of recalled products on

UPDATED, Tuesday, August 02, 2011, 6:13 p.m. (ET)

The Associated Press has reported that California Department of Public Health spokesman Mike Sicilia said today that the single confirmed death linked to the current Salmonella outbreak and ground turkey occurred in Sacramento County, California. The case was one of two of the illnesses currently confirmed in Sacramento County. Four additional CA cases have been confirmed at this time: Los Angeles (1), San Francisco (1), Riverside (1) and San Diego (1) counties.

At this time, no recall for ground turkey has been issued.

Read more about the ongoing ground turkey warnings below; read more about the just-released study on a new Salmonella superbug, Salmonella Kentucky, on
Salmonella superbug isolated in U.S. food imports, study suggests


UPDATED, Tuesday, August 02, 2011, 2:15 p.m. (ET):

MSNBC has reported that a spokesman for the Food Safety and Inspection Service, who was not authorized to be identified, commented today on the lack of a recall of ground turkey in the U.S., despite growing consumer concern:

"FSIS has not linked these illnesses to a particular brand, product or establishment, and therefore has not issued a recall," said the unidentified spokesman. "We are continuing to investigate the situation."

Until the ground turkey can be linked to a particular source, the spokesman explained, the warning to consumers was as far as the FSIS can go.

Early information, MSNBC reported, indicated that three samples detecting a strain of Salmonella Heidelberg were found in a particular production establishment, but the cultures were not yet linked to the actual illnesses involved in the outbreak, and CDC officials will not identify the establishment at this time.

The samples of Salmonella Heidelberg appear to be resistant to common antibiotics, MSNBC reported. One death has been reported to have been linked to the outbreak, and 22 hospitalizations have been confirmed thus far. The cases, by state and number of illnesses, as identified by MSNBC, are as follows:

Alabama, 1 case; Arizona, 2 cases; California, 6 cases; Georgia, 1 case; Iowa, 1 case; Illinois, 7 cases; Indiana, 1 case; Kentucky, 2 cases; Louisiana, 1 case; Massachusetts, 1 case; Michigan, 10 cases; Minnesota, 1 case; Missouri, 2 cases; Mississippi, 1 case; North Carolina, 1 case; Nebraska, 2 cases; Nevada, 1 case; New York, 2 cases; Ohio, 10 cases; Oklahoma, 1 case; Oregon, 1 case; Pennsylvania, 5 cases; South Dakota, 3 cases, Tennessee, 2 cases; Texas, 9 cases; Wisconsin, 3 cases.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has issued a public health alert involving the use and consumption of ground turkey. Concerns have been expressed about illnesses caused across the nation by Salmonella Heidelberg, which may be associated with ground turkey.

According to the USDA alert, ongoing investigations and testing has determined that there is an association between ground turkey and 77 illnesses in 26 states. The illnesses were linked through an epidemiologic investigation and PFGE analyses by state health departments and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

At least one death has been linked to the Salmonella outbreak, MSNBC has reported.

At this time, no recall has been issued.

The CDC is working with state health departments in monitoring the situation; FSIS is focusing its investigation on potential identification of a contamination source(s).

FSIS reminds consumers of the critical importance of following package cooking instructions for frozen or fresh ground turkey products and general food safety guidelines when handling and preparing any raw meat or poultry. In particular, while cooking instructions may give a specific number of minutes of cooking for each side of the patty in order to attain 165 °F internal temperature, consumers should be aware that actual time may vary depending on the cooking method (broiling, frying, or grilling) and the temperature of the product (chilled versus frozen) so it is important that the final temperature of 165 °F must be reached for safety. Please do not rely on the cooking time for each side of the patty, but use a food thermometer.

Ground turkey and ground turkey dishes should always be cooked to 165 °F internal temperature as measured with a food thermometer; leftovers also should be reheated to 165 °F. The color of cooked poultry is not always a sure sign of its safety. Only by using a food thermometer can one accurately determine that poultry has reached a safe minimum internal temperature of 165 °F throughout the product. Turkey can remain pink even after cooking to a safe minimum internal temperature of 165 °F. The meat of smoked turkey is always pink.

Consumption of food contaminated with Salmonella can cause salmonellosis, one of the most common bacterial foodborne illnesses. Salmonella infections can be life-threatening, especially to those with weak immune systems, such as infants, the elderly and persons with HIV infection or undergoing chemotherapy. The most common symptoms of salmonellosis are diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever within eight to 72 hours. Additional symptoms may be chills, headache, nausea and vomiting that can last up to seven days.

To prevent salmonellosis, the USDA recommends consumers observe the following steps:

  • Wash hands with warm, soapy water for at least 20 seconds before and after handling raw meat and poultry. Also wash cutting boards, dishes and utensils with hot soapy water. Clean up spills right away.
  • Keep raw meat, fish and poultry away from other food that will not be cooked. Use separate cutting boards for raw meat, poultry and egg products and cooked foods.
  • Cook raw meat and poultry to safe internal temperatures before eating. The safe internal temperature for meat such as ground beef and pork is 160° F, and 165° F for poultry, as determined with a food thermometer.
  • Refrigerate raw meat and poultry within two hours after purchase (one hour if temperatures exceed 90° F). Refrigerate cooked meat and poultry within two hours after cooking.

Consumers with food safety questions can "Ask Karen," the FSIS virtual representative available 24 hours a day at The toll-free USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) is available in English and Spanish and can be reached from l0 a.m. to 4 p.m. (ET) Monday through Friday. Recorded food safety messages are available 24 hours a day.

Image: Wikimedia Commons


Submitted by larry (not verified) on
I have been sick since Sunday evening...went to the doctor today and she said that I probably had a stomach virus that has been going I read this...and I ate 2 Jimmy Dean ground turkey muffins Sunday morning....was thinking that these may be the cause and distributed to all of those states

Submitted by larry (not verified) on
Looking for the source of my illness! And, thinking I might have been helping find the culprit...Not everyone is after a quick buck!!!!!!!

Submitted by larry (not verified) on
Looking for the source of my illness! And, thinking I might have been helping find the culprit...Not everyone is after a quick buck!!!!!!!

Submitted by Angela Cooper (not verified) on
Can anyone who knows tell me with 100% surtity, and 100% honesty tell me the ground turkey does not cause c diff? If my mom dies, I will expect not only money but much much more, as a matter of fact money will be the least of your worries.

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