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.
Cargill initiated this most recent recall as the result of one confirmed test sample taken by the US Department of Agriculture during a post-Aug. 3 recall review of the processing facility, which yielded low levels of the same Salmonella Heidelberg strain that appears to match the strain previously associated with human illness. Other turkey products produced at Springdale are not part of the recall. Cargill owns four turkey processing facilities in the US and no products from the other three are involved in the recall.
Furthermore, Cargill suspended production of ground turkey products at its Springdale, Ark., turkey processing facility until additional corrective actions, incremental to those implemented as the result of the Aug. 3 recall, can be identified by the company and reviewed and approved by USDA.
"Out of an abundance of caution, we are acting quickly in response to USDA's sample testing," said Steve Willardsen, president of Cargill's turkey processing business, regarding the most-recent recall. "Although there are no known illnesses associated with this positive sample, it is the same Salmonella Heidelberg strain that resulted in our voluntary recall on Aug. 3, 2011. As a result of this latest USDA test result, we have suspended ground turkey production at our Arkansas facility until additional measures can be identified, approved by USDA, then implemented, which is similar to the process we previously employed when working with the agency.
"We go to great lengths to ensure the food we produce is safe each serving, every time, which makes the identification and reduction of naturally and randomly occurring bacteria so challenging and often frustrating. Our resolve to determine how best to reduce human health risks from these bacteria remains unwavering," Willardsen concluded.
Salmonella is a common bacteria with approximately 2,400 different strains, most of which are not harmful to humans. Salmonella is commonly found in plants, animals, water, soil and humans. "We all need to remember bacteria is everywhere, and we must properly handle and prepare fresh foods wherever they are served," Willardsen said. "USDA food-safety guidelines for safely handling and preparing food can be found on the USDA Internet website and serve as helpful food safety reminders."
Cargill is contacting its customers to ensure they know which ground turkey products are affected by this recall. Consumers should return any opened or unopened packages of ground turkey items listed on Cargill's ground turkey recall website (www.cargill.com/turkey-recall) to stores where they were purchased for a full refund. Cargill is working closely with its US customers to make certain as much of the product is retrieved as possible.