THURSDAY, Nov. 21, 2019 (HealthDay News) — With Thanksgiving but a week away, U.S. health officials want to be sure you don’t get sick from any salmonella that might be lurking in your turkey.
In a new report, researchers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention detail the tracking of a recent multistate outbreak of salmonella infections linked to raw turkey products.
All told, 356 people were sickened in 42 states and the District of Columbia. Among those patients, 44% were hospitalized and one died.
“We found this particular outbreak throughout the turkey industry,” said lead researcher Rashida Hassan, a CDC epidemiologist.
Although the number of people getting sick from contaminated turkey has dwindled, cases are still being seen, she said.
“Our investigation ended in April of this year, because the number of cases we saw kind of slowed down, but they didn’t completely go away. We have still seen people infected with this outbreak strain of salmonella, so people still continue to get sick,” Hassan said.
According to Hassan, the CDC wasn’t able to pinpoint the source of the contamination because it appeared to affect the total turkey supply chain.
Tainted products included whole turkeys, turkey parts and ground turkey. Salmonella was found in meat for both humans and pets.
Salmonella was also found in live turkeys, Hassan said.
“So, all of these pieces of evidence let us know that there was industry-wide contamination of this particular strain of salmonella, rather than being isolated to particular foods or facility, as we normally see in these foodborne outbreaks,” she said.
A group that represents the turkey industry said it is doing its part to battle salmonella in turkey products.
The National Turkey Federation “is supporting research on the ever-changing nature of salmonella and how that knowledge can be used in practical applications,” said Beth Breeding, a spokeswoman for the federation.
“We have also launched a focused communications effort to bolster consumer food-safety education,” she added.
“The bottom line is that turkey is perfectly safe to eat when it is properly cooked and handled, and the best way for consumers to protect themselves from foodborne illnesses is to practice good food safety,” Breeding said.