Salmonella Fears Spur Jennie-O Turkey Burger Recall

The Jennie-O Turkey Store, which operates as a subsidiary of Austin-based Hormel Foods Corporation, issued a recall for nearly 55,000 pounds of raw turkey burgers sold exclusively at Sam's Club stores.

The Jennie-O Turkey Store in Willmar is voluntarily recalling almost 55,000 pounds of frozen, raw turkey burgers due to possible salmonella contamination.

The nationwide recall includes four-pound boxes of Jennie-O Turkey Store's all-natural turkey burgers with seasonings that are made with lean white meat, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) said Friday. Each box contains 12 third-pound individually wrapped burgers.

The recalled products have a “use-by” date of December 23, 2011-and a code ranging between 32710 and 32780 on the side panel of each box and just above the opening tear strip.

Austin-based Hormel Foods Corporation operates the Jennie-O Turkey Store as a wholly owned subsidiary and created a Web site with information about the recall. The Web site indicates that the recalled burgers were distributed exclusively at Sam's Club stores nationwide. Consumers who bought the recalled product should return it to a Sam's Club store for a full refund.

The Wisconsin Department of Health and Family Services notified FSIS about a patient who was diagnosed with salmonellosis-one of the most common bacterial foodborne illnesses. An FSIS investigation was launched and then expanded to include 12 people in Arizona, California, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Washington, and Wisconsin who were diagnosed with the same illness between December 2010 and March 2011. Three patients in Colorado, Ohio, and Wisconsin specifically reported eating the recalled Jennie-O Turkey Store product prior to the onset of their illnesses and subsequent hospitalization. The last of the reported illnesses was brought to officials' attention on March 14.

FSIS said that it “determined that there is a link between the Jennie-O ground turkey products and this illness outbreak,” adding that it will continue its investigation with the help of other federal and state agencies.

Salmonella infections can be life-threatening, especially to those with weak immune systems-such as infants, the elderly, and people with HIV or who are undergoing chemotherapy. The most common symptoms of salmonellosis are diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever-and they usually occur within six to 72 hours after ingestion.