At least 23 people in Illinois are part of a multistate turkey Salmonella outbreak linked to raw turkey products. Forty-one states have reported 279 illnesses and 107 hospitalizations. One person in California has died.
During interviews with health officials, most of the people sickened reported eating turkey they had purchased raw and prepared at home before they became ill. But some did not. Four people who are part case-patients in this outbreak live in homes where pets consume raw turkey pet food.
Ryan Osterholm, one of the lead Salmonella attorneys at the national food safety law firm Pritzker Hageman, is representing several clients sickened in this outbreak. One of them is a 5-year-old girl who developed osteomyelitis, a painful bone infection, as a complication of her Salmonella infection. She did not eat the contaminated turkey, but her pets did.
What is Salmonella?
Salmonella is a bacteria often found in the intestines of animals and humans that is shed in their feces. If these feces then contaminate food, people who eat the food can get a Salmonella infection called salmonellosis. Symptoms of an infection include diarrhea that persists for days and is sometimes bloody, vomiting and fever that is usually higher than 101.5˚F.
People who have symptoms of a Salmonella infection should see a doctor. Tests performed on a stool sample can determine if the illness is due to salmonellosis.
Turkey Salmonella Recalls
Recalls for two brands of raw pet food have been issued. One for Raws for Paws pet food issued in February 2018. And one in January 2019 for Woody’s Pet Food Deli. Two recalls for Jennie-O ground turkey have also been issued. On November 15, 2018, the company recalledExternal approximately 147,276 pounds of raw ground turkey products produced at its facility in Barron, Wisconsin. And on December 21, 2018, the company recalledExternal approximately 164,210 pounds of raw ground turkey products produced from its Faribault facility on December 21, 2018. The recall included 1-pound, 2.5-pound and 3-pound packages of ground turkey marked with the establishment number “P-579”.
Salmonella Outbreak Strain is Widespread
The investigation of this outbreak has prompted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to state that Salmonella contamination is an industrywide problem. So far, health officials have found the outbreak strain in samples of raw turkey pet food in Minnesota, in raw turkey products collected from the homes of case-patients, in product samples from 22 different slaughterhouses, in samples from seven different processing facilities and in samples from live turkeys in several states.
“It’s a major public health risk not being fully addressed by industry or the USDA,” Osterholm said.
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