(AP) In one of the largest meat recalls ever, Cargill is recalling 36 million pounds of turkey after a salmonella outbreak killed one person in California and sickened dozens more.
USDA and the Minnesota-based company announced Wednesday evening that Cargill is recalling fresh and frozen ground turkey products produced at the company's Springdale, Ark., plant from Feb. 20 through Aug. 2 due to possible contamination from the strain of salmonella linked to 76 illnesses and the one death.
"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," said Steve Willardsen, president of Cargill's turkey processing business.
All of the packages recalled include the code "Est. P-963," according to Cargill, though packages were labeled under many different brands. Many of the recalled meats are under the label Honeysuckle White. Other brands include Riverside Ground Turkey, Natural Lean Ground Turkey, Fit & Active Lean Ground Turkey, Spartan Ground Turkey and Shady Brook Farms Ground Turkey Burgers.
The recall also includes ground turkey products packaged under the HEB, Safeway, Kroger, Randall's, Tom Thumb and Giant Eagle grocery store brands.
Illnesses in the outbreak date back to March and have been reported in 26 states coast to coast. Just before the recall announcement Wednesday, U.S. Centers for Disease Control epidemiologist Christopher Braden said he thought health authorities were closing in on the suspect. He said some leftover turkey in a package at a victim's house was confirmed to contain the strain of salmonella linked to the outbreak.
In announcing the recall, Cargill officials said all ground turkey production has been suspended at the Springdale plant until the company is able to determine the source of the contamination.
The Minnesota-based company said it was initiating the recall after its own internal investigation, an Agriculture Department investigation and the information about the illnesses released by the CDC this week. The CDC said the strain is resistant to many commonly prescribed antibiotics, which can make treatment more difficult.
The states reporting the highest number sickened are Michigan and Ohio, with 10 each. Texas has reported nine illnesses; Illinois, seven; California, six; and Pennsylvania, five.
"It is regrettable that people may have become ill from eating one of our ground turkey products," said Cargill executive Willardsen, "and, for anyone who did, we are truly sorry."
Source: Associated Press