Last week, Cargill, a leading meat processor, announced that it was recalling 36 million pounds of ground turkey due to salmonella contamination. The outbreak killed at least one person in California and sickened individuals in at least 26 states, including an infant in Oregon who was hospitalized in Multnomah County but recovered.
The latest salmonella outbreak involves a unique strain of salmonella, called Heidelberg. Dr. Richard Leman, medical epidemiologist with Oregon Public Health, has been working with state public health officials around the country, as well as the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Centers for the Disease Control and Prevention, to track the origins of this outbreak.
Heidelberg, like other salmonella strains, causes a bacterial infection that can lead to diarrhea, fever and vomiting. Symptoms usually develop within one to five days after eating contaminated food.
To reduce the risk of salmonella poisoning, Dr. Leman reminded consumers to wash their hands thoroughly before and after handling meat; thoroughly clean all food preparation surfaces, cooking utensils and cookware; and always cook ground poultry to internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit as measured with a food thermometer. Uncooked ground poultry should be refrigerated no longer than one to two days, and kept in the freezer no more than three to four months.