CDC Warns of Yearlong Outbreak of Salmonella in Turkey Products

An outbreak of salmonella linked to raw turkey products has left one person dead and 164 others sick, and an outbreak that has been going on for a year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced late last week, and has issued warnings for safely preparing and cooking turkey to kill any food-borne bacteria.

In this article, will show you how to protect yourself, identify salmonella symptoms, and advise you on how to safely thaw and cook your turkey to prevent bacteria illness.

Year-long outbreak of salmonella in Turkey products

The CDC announced that the outbreak salmonella in Turkey products has been ongoing for a year now, and it has been positively identified in various raw turkey products, including: ground turkey, turkey patties, raw turkey, pet food and even in live turkeys.

As a result of the outbreak, 164 people were sickened, with 63 people requiring hospitalization, and leaving one person dead in California.

The CDC identified the outbreak strain as “Salmonella Reading.” The CDC has linked the same bacteria to outbreaks at seven turkey processing facilities and 22 slaughterhouses.

Symptoms of salmonella poisoning

Salmonella is one of the most common types of food poisoning. Although it can be fatal, most people are able to recover without any treatment.

Typical symptoms are: Diarrhea, fever and stomach cramps, which typically begin within 12 to 72 hours after being exposed to the bacteria, the CDC says. The illness generally lasts from 4 to 7 days.

In the US, salmonella makes about 1.2 million people sick each year, sending 23,000 to the hospital and killing 450.

How to protect yourself

Salmonella and other food-borne germs can be destroyed by cooking turkey in other meats thoroughly, the CDC advises.

In a tweet, the CDC advised people to thaw their Thanksgiving turkeys in the refrigerator, writing: “For Thanksgiving, thaw your turkey in the fridge, NOT on the counter.”

As a general rule, allow about 24 hours of in-refrigerator thawing for each five pounds of the bird’s weight. Don’t count the day you plan on roasting your turkey as part of your equation.

Properly cooking turkey to kill bacteria

It’s important to always use a meat thermometer when roasting turkey, as temperature is a guide to doneness and an assurance that it has been cooked thoroughly enough to adequately kill bacteria.

The internal temperature of the turkey, as tested with a meat thermometer, should reach a 180°F to assure any bacteria has been destroyed. Further, the internal temperature of stuffing inside the cavity of the turkey should reach 165°F.

An oven temperature of 325°F or higher is necessary to kill bacteria. Temperatures lower than 325°F will actually allow harmful bacteria to multiply.