Cargill Value Added Meats Retail has initiated a voluntary recall of about 36 million pounds of ground turkey products because of possible salmonella contamination, although there is still no conclusive evidence of the outbreak source, the company has said.
The division of Wichita, Arkansas-based meat processing firm Cargill Meat Solutions Corporation said on Wednesday that it was recalling all fresh and frozen ground turkey products produced at its Springdale, Arkansas facility from February 20, 2011 to August 2, due to possible contamination with salmonella Heidelberg – a multi-drug-resistant salmonella strain that has been linked to one death and at least 76 illnesses across 26 states.
Cargill said in a statement that it has initiated the recall as a result of its own internal investigation, as well as information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) investigation.
In addition, Cargill said it had suspended production at its Springdale facility until it could determine the source of the outbreak.
President of Cargill’s turkey processing business Steve Willardsen said: "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. Additionally, we have suspended ground turkey production at our Arkansas facility until the source can be pinpointed and actions to address it are taken.
“Public health and the safety of consumers cannot be compromised. It is regrettable that people may have become ill from eating one of our ground turkey products and, for anyone who did, we are truly sorry. We go to great lengths to ensure the food we produce is safe and we fully understand that people expect to be able to consume safe food, each serving, every time.”
No turkey products from Cargill’s three other turkey processing facilities in the US have been recalled.
All of the recalled products carry the code "Est. P-963" on the label, the company said.
The FSIS has issued a list of the recalled turkey products, which is available online here .
The FSIS has also issued a public health warning, including urging people to ensure that turkey products are properly cooked to an internal temperature of 165°F.