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Deadly Salmonella Contamination Spurs Third Largest Meat Recall Ever

Aug. 4, 2011 -- Cargill has recalled 36 million pounds of ground turkey sold since Feb. 20, the third largest meat recall in history.

Ground turkey processed by Cargill's Springdale, Ark., processing plant is the likely cause of a drug-resistant salmonella outbreak that has killed one person and sickened at least 78 others in 26 states since March 9. The most recent illness was reported on July 24.

"Thirty-eight percent of patients have been hospitalized, higher than the hospitalization rate typically seen with salmonella," Chris Braden, MD, director of the CDC's division of food-borne illness, said today at a news teleconference. "One possible reason is the strain is resistant to ampicillin, tetracycline, and streptomycin. This drug resistance may increase the risk of hospitalization and the risk of treatment failure, which is when a patient does not respond to treatment."

Using shopper cards that allow grocery stores to track customer purchases, investigators traced three salmonella cases back to products from the Cargill plant. "In-plant findings" further link the facility to the outbreak, according to the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS).

Packages of the recalled ground turkey carry the establishment mark "P-963" inside the USDA mark of inspection.

Some of the recalled turkey is unbranded. Brand names so far included in the recall are Fit & Active, Giant Eagle, HEB, Honeysuckle White, Kroger, Safeway, Shady Brook Farms, and Spartan. See below for a full list of the recalled products.

Some of the products were sold to restaurants and other food-service establishments. Others were sold at retail outlets, including:

  • Aldi stores nationwide
  • Walmart stores nationwide
  • Kroger stores nationwide
  • Giant Eagle stores in Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia, and Ohio
  • HEB stores in Texas
  • Ingles stores in South Carolina, North Carolina, Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, and Virginia
  • Meijer stores in Missouri, Illiniois, Kentucky, Indiana, and Ohio
  • Stater Brothers stores in California
  • Winco stores in Washington, Idaho, Nebraska, California, and Oregon

The recall does not include other turkey products processed at the Arkansas plant or ground turkey processed at Cargill's other three facilities.

"We have an ongoing evaluation in the Arkansas plant right now. I believe we will get to examining their entire process while engaged there," David Goldman, MD, assistant administrator of the FSIS, said today at a news teleconference.

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