Written by Faith Anderson on September 13, 2011
Ground Turkey Meat Recall Affects 185,000 Pounds of Product
The current turkey meat recall affects 185,000 pounds of ground turkey meat produced August 23 and 24, and August 30 and 31 from the company’s establishment in Springdale, Arkansas. The previous recall, which was one of the largest in history, affected 36 million pounds of ground turkey meat produced at the plant between February 20 and August 2. Two million pounds of the tainted meat affected by the first recall were recovered and buried in a landfill. According to federal health officials, the August recall was associated with an outbreak of multi-drug-resistant Salmonella Heidelberg, which has been implicated in the current recall as well. After the previous outbreak was discovered, the company suspended production of ground turkey products at the processing facility for eight days and established stricter production regulations, according to Mike Martin, director of communications for Cargill in Wichita, Kansas. These new processes included bacterial washes and “the most aggressive sampling and monitoring program in the industry,” Martin says.
Salmonella Contamination Traced Back to Birds
Despite the more aggressive production processes put into place at the Arkansas Cargill Meat Solutions facility, a sample taken by federal health officials on August 24 was contaminated by the same Heidelberg variant of the bacteria, one that is resistant to a number of antibiotics. A second sample taken on August 30 came back with a presumptive match, Martin said. “We know it came in with the birds,” stated Martin. “We’re looking at the entire supply chain back to, obviously, bird farms.” He added, “We understand that people expect their food to be safe when they purchase it, and we are going to do everything we can to ensure that’s the case.” Unfortunately, the ubiquity of the bacteria means there could be similar recalls in the future, Martin fears. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service recommends that consumers cook meat to an inner temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit (74 Celsius), in order to kill bacteria like salmonella.