One Salmonella Heidelberg outbreak appears over

by Bryan Salvage
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ATLANTA – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) concluded late last week that a total of 136 persons were infected with the multi-state outbreak strain of Salmonella Heidelberg reported from 34 states in recent months. This particular outbreak appears to be over, CDC added. On May 23, CDC PulseNet first identified a multistate cluster of Salmonella Heidelberg infections (30 ill persons, 17 states) and began monitoring for additional illnesses. Collaborative investigative efforts of state, local and federal public health and regulatory agencies indicated ground turkey was the source of this outbreak, CDC said.

An Aug. 24 sample of ground turkey taken from Cargill Meat Solutions’ Springdale, Ark., turkey processing plant by FSIS that tested positive for a strain of Salmonella Heidelberg was confirmed by FSIS as containing the Salmonella Heidelberg outbreak strain (XbaI PFGE pattern 58/BlnI pattern 76). On Aug. 3, Cargill Value Added Meats Retail announced an immediate Class I voluntary recall of approximately 36 million lbs. of fresh and frozen ground turkey products produced at the same plant from Feb. 20, 2011, through Aug. 2, that may have been contaminated with a multi-drug resistant strain of Salmonella Heidelberg. On Sept. 11, Cargill issued another immediate Class I voluntary recall of approximately 185,000 lbs. of 85-percent-lean fresh ground turkey products produced at the company's Springdale, Ark., facility on Aug. 23, 24, 30 and 31 as a precautionary measure.

However, a Cargill spokesman told MEATPOULTRY.com in early October “a significant portion of these illnesses had not been linked to ground turkey.” A review continues at the plant.

“Regarding the ground turkey operation at Springdale, it remains voluntarily suspended as we continue to review and assess technology options that will provide us with assurance that we are further lowering the potential risk of food borne illness from bacteria, such as Salmonella and its numerous strains that could impact human health,” Mike Martin, Cargill director of communications, told MEATPOULTRY.com on Nov. 14. “We continue to produce turkey products other than ground turkey at Springdale, and we have been able to bring back about 40 of the 130 people who were laid off early last month. Those people filled vacancies in other parts of the facility.

“We are looking at quite a number of technologies, some current and some in development, as well as reviewing our internal programs,” he added. “We are currently awaiting validation trial results to determine what we will include in the plan we submit to USDA prior to resuming ground turkey production at Springdale.”

In other news, CDC is collaborating with public health and agriculture officials in New York, New Jersey, other states, FSIS and the US Food and Drug Administration to investigate a multistate outbreak of Salmonella Heidelberg infections linked to a kosher chicken liver product labeled as “kosher broiled chicken livers,” which is not ready-to-eat and requires further cooking before eating.

Epidemiologic and laboratory investigations conducted by officials in local, state and federal public health, agriculture and regulatory agencies linked this outbreak to eating “kosher broiled chicken livers” from Schreiber Processing Corporation, of Maspeth, NY, (doing business as Alle Processing Corporation/MealMart Company), and chopped chicken liver prepared from this product. Among 30 ill persons for whom information is available, 22 (73 percent) reported consuming chicken liver products in the week before their illness began.

Schreiber Processing Corporation announced a voluntary recall of an undetermined amount of “kosher broiled chicken liver” products on Nov. 8.
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