Thanksgiving Scare – Salmonella Outbreak Linked to Raw Turkey

Source: Alexander Raths - 123RF

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and public health and regulatory officials in 35 states are investigating a multistate outbreak of multidrug-resistant Salmonella infections linked to raw turkey products. The outbreak is being monitored by the Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service.

As of Nov. 5, 164 people infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Reading have been reported from 35 states, and 63 people have been hospitalized. One death has been reported from California.

The outbreak strain has been identified in various raw turkey products, including ground turkey and turkey patties. The outbreak strain has also been found in raw turkey pet food and live turkeys, indicating it might be widespread in the turkey industry.

The CDC is offering the following advice to consumers:

  • Always handle raw turkey carefully and cook it thoroughly to prevent food poisoning;
  • CDC is NOT advising that consumers avoid eating properly cooked turkey products, or that retailers stop selling raw turkey products;
  • General ways you can prevent Salmonella infection include good handwashing and cooking turkey to an internal temperature of 165°F.  Thaw turkeys in the refrigerator, not on the counter;
  • More prevention advice here: https://www.cdc.gov/features/turkeytime/index.html;
  • People get sick from Salmonella 12 to 72 hours after swallowing the germ and experience diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps; and
  • Most people recover within a week, but some illnesses can last longer and be more severe.

A single, common supplier of raw turkey products or of live turkeys has not been identified.