Less than a week before Thanksgiving, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service has issued a recall on turkey meat contaminated with salmonella.
The recall is for Jennie-O raw ground turkey products, and not on the whole roasters that go on Thanksgiving tables.
But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it could not identify a single, common supplier of raw turkey products or live turkeys to account for the outbreak that is responsible for one death in California.
As of November 5, 164 people had been infected with the salmonella strain in 35 states. Sixty-three people had been hospitalized.
The raw turkey products are from a variety of turkey products purchased from numerous locations, the CDC said. The outbreak was identified in samples from raw turkey pet food, raw turkey products and live turkeys.
The outbreak is most prevalent in New York, Minnesota, Illinois, California and Texas.
Hospitals must always be prepared for an expected influx of patients.
Northwell Health in New York is prepared and is not ramping up any staffing, said Donna Armellino, a registered nurse who is vice president of Infectious Prevention.
“We constantly look at individuals coming into the ER and who are waiting for a bed,” she said. “We have processes, if it gets to a certain level, we get people in.”
If an illness reaches sufficient proportions, the hospital would cancel elective surgeries.
“We always have a plan,” Armellino said. “We would then ramp up as needed.”
The health system is taking seriously the outbreak of salmonella reported in turkeys, even as the bacterial infection remains an ongoing issue, particularly in chicken products during barbecue season each summer.
The symptoms of those infected include diarrhea, fever and stomach camps.
Northwell deals with a steady stream of organisms such as salmonella that sicken patients and increases patient numbers at the ER or physician offices, Armellino said.
“It’s kind of like a constant norm,” Armellino said on Friday. “Right now with the turkeys, we’ve not seen official notice from New York State. The CDC and USDA work with the turkey industry. If New York saw an increase from the labs, we would have gotten a notice. We have not seen any increases at this point.”
WHAT ELSE YOU NEED TO KNOW
On November 15, Jennie-O turkey stores in Barron, Wisconsin recalled about 91,388 pounds of raw ground turkey products.
With the exception of the Jennie-O recalled products, the CDC is not advising consumers avoid eating turkey.
The CDC also has salmonella warnings linked to raw chicken products and an E.coli recall on two types of ground beef.
The USDA on Friday and Saturday reported a recall on ground beef due to possible E.coli contamination from Swift Beef Company and Majestic Meat Company, both in Utah. The recalled products were shipped to distributors in California, Nevada, Oregon, Utah and Washington.
WHAT WE ALL SHOULD KNOW BEFORE THURSDAY
Treat raw turkey as raw chicken in its preparation, keeping it separate from other food and washing all surfaces and hands.
Thaw turkey in the refrigerator, not on the counter.
Cook turkey to an internal temperature of 165 degrees
Also heat leftovers to 165 degrees.
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