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Salmonella in Turkeys Linked to One Death and 164 Illnesses Across 35 States

Salmonella in Turkeys Linked to One Death and 164 Illnesses Across 35 States

Here's what the CDC says on keeping Thanksgiving safe this year.

UPDATE: After an initial outbreak report on July 19, federal officials at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention are reporting that one person has died in California due to a salmonella outbreak linked to turkey. While no official recalls have been issued as of yet, 164 people in 35 different states have reported illnesses related to eating undercooked turkey—including ground turkey and other products—and nearly 50 percent of these individuals have been admitted to hospitals due to serious sideffects.

What's causing all the sickness? A certain strain of salmonella, known as Salmonella Reading, has been found in "live turkeys from several states, and from raw turkey products collected from ill people’s homes," the CDC bulletin reads. Federal officials are still investigating to see if they can determine a common supplier causing the outbreak.

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When the news first broke back in July, only 90 people in 26 states had been affected—but the first death, and an additional 82 percent increase in cases overall, is alarming for home cooks who are preparing for Thanksgiving celebrations in just two weeks.

The latest recall news:

Currently, both the United States Department of Agriculture and the CDC are working together to identify a solution—they've asked major turkey producers for advice to help American consumers avoid salmonella contamination this holiday season, the update says.

What does this mean for your Thanksgiving feast?

As we first reported, these illnesses all fall within the last year—and range from ground turkey to turkey breasts or drumsticks. Right now the CDC and other federal safety agencies are saying that it is safe to eat Thanksgiving turkey, pending further investigation.

Michael Pohuski/Getty Images

But as Americans gear up to eat another 46 million plus turkeys this Thanksgiving, it's important to follow all the safety procedures when preparing your Thanksgiving meal. The CDC advises that all turkey should be cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degrees before being served, and taking the time to use a meat thermometer to confirm temperatures before serving your meal is crucial.

A few of these cases are associated with pet food as well—avoid feeding your pets raw meat, but especially turkey, as you can contaminate your kitchen with salmonella bacteria after handling the raw meat in the first place.

We'll continue to update this story as more information becomes available. For more details on this widespread issue, continue reading our original report below:

Ninety people in 26 different states have suffered infections from disease-resistant salmonella after handling or consuming raw turkey products since November, 2017—upwards of 40 individuals were hospitalized since then due to serious conditions, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced on Thursday. The federal agency partly responsible for consumers' safety isn't launching a recall or asking Americans to lay off turkey, but their investigation into this outbreak yielded a need to caution the public about preparing and cooking raw turkey. No deaths have been linked to this outbreak as of yet.

You might ask why we're just hearing of this salmonella outbreak now: Laura Gieraltowski, one of the leaders of the food-borne outbreak response team at the CDC, told Consumer Reports that the agency chose to not alert the public because they were unable to find a common source that sparked the sicknesses. The CDC still has not found a source of the contamination or pinpointed one manufacturer, production space, or farm to explain why so many have fallen ill, Gieraltowski says.

Since the first cases of salmonella poisoning were reported nine months ago, there have been many possibilities about the source of the contamination. Some victims had handled or eaten ground turkey. Others consumed turkey breasts or drumsticks. And of course many had purchased whole turkeys—more than 46 million turkeys were consumed during Thanksgiving last year.

“We have ill people that are reporting lots of different types of turkey products with lots of different brands, and purchasing them from many different locations,” Gieraltowski told Consumer Reports. The CDC advises people to also take precautions when it comes to feeding your pet: Two illnesses in the outbreak occurred in homes where people fed their pets raw turkey. (Though there are many advocates of feeding pets raw food, we recommend against it.)

More on foodborne illnesses currently making headlines:

While the CDC has been unable to discover what is fueling the slow-but-steady spread of salmonella, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service claims that it has found the strain of salmonella linked to the 90 cases in various turkey processing facilities. It also has spotted the particularly viral strain of salmonella in 19 different slaughtering facilities and six different processing plants. According to an official announcement, both the CDC and the USDA are working with representatives within the turkey industry to try and prevent further contamination in the future.

Many of those who became ill were traced to the eastern half of the United States, but the footprint of those affected reach as far west as Alaska and Hawaii.

Should you be eating turkey right now?

The CDC says it is safe to eat turkey—as long as you know the proper way to safely handle and cook it in your own kitchen. The CDC advises that all turkey should be cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degrees before being served, using a proper meat thermometer to confirm temperatures before serving your meal.

You should always wash your hands properly when handling raw meat in your kitchen, and take time to sanitize any prep space—but don't wash raw turkey or poultry in your sink before prepping, as this can help spread any bacteria across your kitchen's surfaces. Avoid feeding your pets raw meat, but especially turkey, as you can contaminate your kitchen with salmonella bacteria after handling the raw meat in the first place.

Salmonella poisoning can lead to serious symptoms within 12 to 72 hours after first eating the contaminated food, which include chronic diarrhea, high fevers, vomiting, and widespread abdominal pain. Salmonella can often be confused with regular food poisoning.

As Consumer Reports notes, this is the ninth major salmonella outbreak reported by federal agencies this year—and signifies a larger problem where national food security proves to be a major challenge for the government officials tasked with it. A recent proposal aims to solve the issue by consolidating all food safety agencies under the USDA, which makes its way to Congress for approval later this year.


1 death linked to ongoing turkey salmonella outbreak

Q&ampA with Dr. Manny: Since coming back from vacation, I’ve had diarrhea and cramps. How do I know I have salmonella versus some other gastrointestinal condition?

NEW YORK – Federal health officials on Thursday reported the first death in an ongoing salmonella outbreak linked to raw turkey.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the death was in California but didn't have any immediate details. Since last November, the agency said 164 people have fallen ill in 35 states, with the most recent case being reported on Oct. 20.

No products have been recalled, and the agency hasn't recommended that people avoid turkey. But it said it believes the outbreak is widespread and ongoing, and it reminded people to properly cook and handle turkey with Thanksgiving approaching.

"We are still seeing new illnesses being reported on a weekly basis," said Colin Basler, an epidemiologist with the CDC.

Basler noted there is a lag time between when a person gets sick and when the illness gets reported to health officials. The California Department of Public Health did not immediately respond to an email seeking additional details about the death.

A single supplier hasn't been identified in connection with the outbreak. The rare salmonella strain was identified in live turkeys, as well as in ground turkey, turkey patties and raw turkey pet food.

The National Turkey Federation said in a statement that its members have reviewed their salmonella-control programs. A representative for the industry group wasn't immediately available to provide further details.

To limit exposure, the CDC recommends cooking turkey to an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees, and washing hands and counters that have touched uncooked meat.

Salmonella can be found in a variety of foods, including packaged foods. This week, Conagra Brands recalled 2.4 million boxes of Duncan Hines cake mix because of a link to salmonella.

The CDC estimates salmonella causes about 1.2 million illnesses a year. Symptoms include diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps and can last up to seven days. Illnesses are more likely to be severe in the elderly and infants, according to the CDC.


Investigation of the Outbreak

State and local health departments continue to interview ill people about the foods they ate and other exposures in the week before they became ill. Of 85 people interviewed, 44 (52 percent) people interviewed reported preparing or eating turkey products that were purchased raw, including ground turkey, turkey pieces, and whole turkey. Ill people reported buying many different brands of raw turkey products from multiple stores. Also, 3 of the 85 ill people interviewed became sick after pets in their home ate raw ground turkey pet food. Three of the 85 ill people interviewed worked in a facility that raises or processes turkeys, or lived with someone who did.

The outbreak strain of Salmonella Reading has been identified in samples from raw turkey pet food in Minnesota, from live turkeys from several states, and from raw turkey products collected from ill people’s homes. The raw turkey samples collected from ill people’s homes are still being investigated to determine the source of the turkey.

The outbreak strain was also identified in samples from raw turkey products from 22 slaughter and 7 processing establishments. The samples collected by FSIS at these slaughter and processing establishments were part of FSIS’s routine testing under the Salmonella performance standards. Furthermore, whole genome sequencing (WGS) showed that the Salmonella strain isolated from these samples is closely related genetically to the Salmonella strain from ill people. This result provides more evidence that people in this outbreak got sick from preparing raw turkey products.

WGS analysis did not identify predicted antibiotic resistance in 116 isolates from 53 ill people and 63 food and animal samples. However, 68 isolates from ill people and 84 isolates from food, animal, and environmental samples contained genes for resistance to all or some of the following antibiotics: ampicillin, streptomycin, sulfamethoxazole, tetracycline, kanamycin, gentamicin, nalidixic acid, ciprofloxacin, ceftriaxone, and fosfomycin. Testing of five outbreak isolates using standard antibiotic susceptibility testing by CDC’s National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System (NARMS) laboratory confirmed these results. Most of the infections in this outbreak are susceptible to the antibiotics that are commonly used for treatment, so this resistance likely will not affect the choice of antibiotic used to treat most people.

Available data indicate that this strain of Salmonella Reading may be present in live turkeys and in raw turkey products. A single, common supplier of raw turkey products or of live turkeys has not been identified.


Consumer Reports Calls on USDA to Protect Consumers, Identify Turkey Brands Linked to Deadly, Antibiotic-Resistant Salmonella Outbreak

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Consumer Reports urged the U.S. Department of Agriculture today to identify the brands of turkey that have been linked to a drug-resistant strain of Salmonella in turkey that has sickened consumers across the nation. The outbreak in raw turkey products has been going on for a year, but neither the turkey industry nor the USDA has released any information about which brands are making people sick.

“The USDA should immediately make public which turkey producers, suppliers, and brands are involved in this outbreak — especially with Thanksgiving right around the corner,” said Jean Halloran, Director of Food Policy Initiatives for Consumer Reports. “This information could save lives and help ensure consumers take the precautions needed to prevent anyone in their home from getting sick.”

The outbreak of the drug-resistant Salmonella strain, known as Salmonella Reading, has been linked to 164 illnesses in 35 states, including one death in California, and about half of those sickened have been hospitalized. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the outbreak has been found in live turkeys and many kinds of raw turkey products, and that it “might be widespread in the turkey industry.” The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service has identified the Salmonella strain in samples of raw turkey products collected from 22 slaughterhouses and seven processing plants but has not disclosed these facilities or the names of the companies that operate them.

“Just one week from now, a majority of Americans will be sitting down with their families for a Thanksgiving dinner, complete with turkey on their plates,” said Halloran. “The USDA must take more aggressive action to make sure the turkeys served this year aren’t contaminated with a potentially deadly strain of Salmonella.” Consumer Reports has called on USDA to classify dangerous strains of Salmonella like this one as an adulterant, so that foods containing them cannot be sold.

Consumer Reports encourages the public to be alert to the symptoms of a Salmonella infection. It usually takes 12 to 72 hours after you have ingested something contaminated with Salmonella to get sick. The key symptoms are diarrhea, fever, abdominal pain, and sometimes vomiting. Most people recover from Salmonella without treatment, but in some cases, treatment with antibiotics is required. Young children, older adults, pregnant women, and people with compromised immune systems are especially at risk.

Dangerous bacteria can be killed by cooking a turkey thoroughly. Consumer Reports has the following recommendations for preparing and cooking turkey safely:


91,000 pounds of ground turkey recalled due to possible Salmonella

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

Consumer Reports is calling on the government to name the brands involved in the outbreak of a drug-resistant strain of salmonella that is linked to raw turkey products.

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Updated: What You Need to Know About the Salmonella Outbreak Linked to Raw Turkey Products

Update: More than 160 people have gotten sick and one person has died in a salmonella outbreak linked to raw turkey that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has been following for about a year. Now, Jennie-O is recalling 147,276 pounds (nearly 74 tons), making it the first company to recall its products in connection to the outbreak, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS).

The affected products include Jennie-O 1-pound packages of:

  • Ground Turkey 93% Lean/7% Fat
  • Ground Turkey 90% Lean/10% Fat
  • Ground Turkey 85% Lean/15% Fat
  • Taco Seasoned Ground Turkey
  • Italian Seasoned Ground Turkey

All of the affected products have "use by" dates between October 1 and October 2, 2018 and read "P-190" inside the USDA mark of inspection.

The recall comes after an FSIS inspection found that an unopened package of Jennie-O ground turkey from a patient's home contained a strain of salmonella that matched the patient's and the strain identified in the outbreak. However, the CDC notes that it has not identified a common manufacturer in the outbreak. "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," the CDC says.

To learn more about the outbreak and how to cook safely with raw turkey, continue to our original story below.

Original Report (November 12, 2018):

A salmonella outbreak linked to raw turkey products has officially turned deadly, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported on Friday.

This is the latest update in an outbreak the CDC has been tracking for almost exactly a year. The first illnesses reported as part of the outbreak started between November 20, 2017 and have continued to pop up through October 20, 2018. In total, there have been 164 illnesses in 35 states associated with the outbreak, 63 of which required hospitalization. Of those, 74 cases in 26 states—including one death—were reported since the CDC's last update this past July.

According to health department interviews with 85 people who became sick in connection the outbreak, 44 people became ill after eating turkey products they had purchased raw, including turkey pieces, whole turkey, and ground turkey. And another three people became ill after handling raw turkey to feed to their pets (for the record, the CDC doesn't recommend feeding pets a raw diet).

There aren't any recalls associated with the outbreak, and the CDC isn't warning consumers against buying any specific products. However, the agency is still reminding everyone to be especially careful when handling raw turkey.

As SELF wrote previously, those symptoms usually include gastrointestinal issues, such as abdominal cramps, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting, as well as fever, headache, and chills.

For most otherwise healthy adults, a salmonella infection isn't particularly serious. But it's more likely to be severe in young children, the elderly, pregnant people, and anyone with an already weakened immune system. The strain of salmonella bacteria identified in this outbreak was tested and found to be resistant to multiple antibiotics. But, the CDC says, it isn't resistant to the types most often used in treatment, so it shouldn't present an issue for most patients.

Right now, this is a reminder that it's incredibly important to be careful when preparing any raw meat or poultry—including turkey. That means following basic food safety procedures, like washing your hands, making sure your turkey is cooked thoroughly (up to 165 degrees Fahrenheit), and keeping raw turkey separate from other foods while preparing it to avoid spreading any germs. Although it's always important to keep these tips in mind, they'll be especially crucial as we head into Thanksgiving.


1 Death Linked to Ongoing Turkey Salmonella Outbreak

Published November 8, 2018 &bull Updated on November 9, 2018 at 9:31 am

Federal health officials on Thursday reported the first death in an ongoing salmonella outbreak linked to raw turkey.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the death was in California but didn't have any immediate details. Since last November, the agency said 164 people have fallen ill in 35 states, with the most recent case being reported on Oct. 20.

No products have been recalled, and the agency hasn't recommended that people avoid turkey. But it said it believes the outbreak is widespread and ongoing, and it reminded people to properly cook and handle turkey with Thanksgiving approaching.

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"We are still seeing new illnesses being reported on a weekly basis," said Colin Basler, an epidemiologist with the CDC.

Basler noted there is a lag time between when a person gets sick and when the illness gets reported to health officials. The California Department of Public Health did not immediately respond to an email seeking additional details about the death.

A single supplier hasn't been identified in connection with the outbreak. The rare salmonella strain was identified in live turkeys, as well as in ground turkey, turkey patties and raw turkey pet food.

The National Turkey Federation said in a statement that its members have reviewed their salmonella-control programs. The industry group said programs include vaccination and sanitation, such as wearing protective boots and clothing to reduce birds' exposure to pathogens.

To limit risk, the CDC recommends cooking turkey to an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees, and washing hands and counters that have touched uncooked meat.

Salmonella can be found in a variety of foods, including packaged foods. This week, Conagra Brands recalled 2.4 million boxes of Duncan Hines cake mix because of a link to salmonella.

The CDC estimates salmonella causes about 1.2 million illnesses a year. Symptoms include diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps and can last up to seven days. Illnesses are more likely to be severe in the elderly and infants, according to the CDC.


Salmonella outbreak brings turkey recall across the US the week before Thanksgiving

The US Department of Agriculture recalled a number of turkey products linked to the 2018 salmonella outbreak which hit 35 states, with Thanksgiving a week away.

Classed with a "High" health risk, the department's Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) recalled 91,338 pounds (41,430 kilograms) of raw turkey products with the Jennie-O Turkey label on Thursday, they said in a statement.

The recall affects four products distributed nationwide, which are all one-pound packets of ground turkey mince with the expiry dates 10/01/2018 and 10/02/2018.

They include "Italian seasoned" and "Taco seasoned" turkey mince — the FSIS has released images of the product labels.

In the report of the recall, the FSIS said they called in the products after a patient tested positive for salmonella and the sample from the turkey matched the outbreak strain.

As of November 5, 2018, 164 people were affected by the 2018 salmonella outbreak which spanned 35 states, put 63 people in hospital, and resulted in one death.

The FSIS' salmonella report says evidence "indicates that raw turkey products from a variety of sources are contaminated with Salmonella."

The FSIS warns that eating Salmonella-contaminated food can cause salmonellosis. "The most common symptoms of salmonellosis are diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever within 12 to 72 hours after eating the contaminated product," they said.

In the report, they said: "Please note that FSIS is continuing to investigate illnesses associated with this widespread outbreak, and additional product from other companies may also be recalled."

Thanksgiving falls on November 23, 2018, and around 88% of people the the US will eat turkey on the day, that's 46 million turkeys each year.


About Consumer Reports

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91,000 Lbs. of Turkey Recalled Amid Widespread Salmonella Outbreak Ahead of Thanksgiving

The outbreak has left one person dead and 164 others sick in 35 different states.

The first food product possibly associated with the widespread salmonella outbreak linked to raw turkey has been identified.

Jennie-O Turkey is recalling 91,388 pounds of raw ground turkey, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service announced on Thursday. Before then, no specific brand of turkey was linked to the outbreak, which has left one person dead and 164 others sick in 35 different states.

The four affected Jennie-O products were produced on Sept. 11 and have “use by” dates of Oct. 1 and Oct. 2. See the full list of recalled items here.

The FSIS and Center for Disease Control are currently investigating the salmonella outbreak and warn customers that more products from different companies may still be affected. According to the CDC, a number of patients have admitted to eating a variety of types and brands of turkey products from different locations.

Those with salmonella typically report symptoms including diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps. Though most people recover without treatment, young children and older adults are at a great risk.

The agencies are concerned affected meats may still be stored in customers’ freezers. They are especially urging caution as people across the country get ready to handle raw turkey for their Thanksgiving dinners.

In order to avoid contracting a salmonella infection, the CDC has advised that people 𠇌ook 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 165ଏ to kill harmful germs. Leftovers should be reheated to 165ଏ.”

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You should also keep raw turkey away from other foods while cooking. After a turkey is handled, the CDC says to wash hands, counters and utensils with warm, soapy water.

Turkey should be defrosted in a refrigerator rather than on a counter or in a sink.

The CDC also warns against feeding raw food to pets. In addition, the handling of raw pet food can make not only pets sick but their owners.


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