The company initiated a voluntary recall of about 36 million pounds of ground turkey products on August 3 because of a possible link to an outbreak of salmonella Heidelberg, a multi-drug-resistant salmonella strain that has been associated with at least 107 illnesses across 31 states, and one death.
Cargill said that it had 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, although the plant was not conclusively linked with the outbreak.
In resuming production at its Springdale, Arkansas plant, Cargill said in a statement that it has enhanced its safety programs and “established an independent panel of scientific experts to go over the plant with a fine-toothed comb” to ensure that nothing has been missed.
President of Cargill’s turkey processing business Steve Willardsen said: “Our facility has produced ground turkey for more than 20 years without a food safety problem. We will continue to look for ways to improve our preventive measures across the supply chain, from animal production to turkey harvest and product manufacturing.”
Cargill said that among the measures it had taken to improve food safety at the plant, it disassembled and steam cleaned equipment, put in place “the most aggressive monitoring and testing program in the poultry industry”, added two antibacterial measures to those already in place, and required its Springdale suppliers to use comparable antibacterial technology.
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.