Salmonella Threat Prompts Cargill Turkey Recall

Two days after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced a multi-state outbreak of salmonella that has resulted in one death and made dozens of people sick, Cargill issued a recall of about 36 million pounds of ground turkey due to possible contamination.

Cargill, Inc., on Wednesday announced that it is recalling about 36 million pounds of fresh and frozen ground turkey products made at one of its Arkansas facilities that may be linked to a deadly form of salmonella.

Wayzata-based Cargill said that it has suspended production of ground turkey products at its Springdale, Arkansas, processing facility until it is able to determine the source of the salmonella “and take corrective actions.”

The recalled turkey was made at the Arkansas facility between February 20 and August 2. Other turkey products made at the plant aren't part of the recall; neither are products from Cargill's other three turkey processing facilities in the United States.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Monday announced that it is working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service to investigate a multi-state outbreak of salmonella Heidelberg, an antibiotic-resistant strain of salmonella that has been responsible for one death and has sickened dozens throughout the country. Illnesses began on or after March 9, and those sickened range in age from less than 1 year to 88, with a median age of 23. This map on the CDC's Web site shows which states have reported infections, and indicates that there was one in Minnesota.

The Minnesota woman was sickened in March and was among 22 people hospitalized during the salmonella outbreak, according to a report by the Star Tribune.

Cargill Value Added Meats Retail, a business unit of Wichita-based Cargill Meat Solutions Corporation, announced the Class 1 voluntary recall-which is the most serious type as defined by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Cargill said it initiated the recall as a result of an internal investigation and information from the CDC and the USDA.

“While facts continue to be gathered, and currently there is no conclusive answer regarding the source of salmonella Heidelberg contamination, 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,” Steve Willardsen, president of Cargill's turkey processing business, said in a statement.

The recall primarily affects varieties of Cargill's Honeysuckle White ground turkey products. Cargill urged consumers to return any opened or unopened packages of the recalled ground turkey items to the stores where they bought them for a full refund. The full list of recalled products can be found near the bottom of Cargill's news release.