Cargill Value Added Meats Retail, a business unit of Wichita-based Cargill Meat Solutions Corporation, today announced an immediate Class I voluntary recall of approximately 36 million pounds of fresh and frozen ground turkey products produced at the company’s Springdale, Ark., facility from Feb. 20, 2011, through Aug. 2, 2011, due to possible contamination from Salmonella Heidelberg.
KHTS News reported on the initial possible contamination on Tuesday. Check out the original story here . More than 70 people have been treated for Salmonella symptoms and one Sacramento man has died.
Cargill is initiating this recall as a result of its internal investigation, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) information that became available on Aug. 1, 2011, as well as an ongoing USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) investigation into multiple illnesses from Salmonella Heidelberg.
Additionally, Cargill has suspended production of ground turkey products at its Springdale, Ark., turkey processing facility until it is able to determine the source of the Salmonella Heidelberg and take corrective actions. Other turkey products produced at Springdale are not part of the recall. Cargill owns four turkey processing facilities in the U.S. and no products from the other three are involved in the recall.
“While facts continue to be gathered, and currently there is no conclusive answer regarding the source of Salmonella Heidelberg contamination, given our concern for what has happened, and our desire to do what is right for our consumers and customers, we are voluntarily removing our ground turkey products from the marketplace,” said Steve Willardsen, president of Cargill’s turkey processing business. “Additionally, we have suspended ground turkey production at our Arkansas facility until the source can be pinpointed and actions to address it are taken. Public health and the safety of consumers cannot be compromised. It is regrettable that people may have become ill from eating one of our ground turkey products and, for anyone who did, we are truly sorry. We go to great lengths to ensure the food we produce is safe and we fully understand that people expect to be able to consume safe food, each serving, every time.”
“Suspending production until we can determine the source of the Salmonella Heidelberg at our Arkansas facility, and take corrective action, is the right thing to do,” stated Willardsen. “We are closely examining every aspect of our production process and have identified enhancements to our procedures in our efforts to ensure safe food. Eliminating food borne illness is always our goal.”
Salmonella is a common bacteria with approximately 2,400 different strains, the vast majority 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,” explained Willardsen. “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 make certain they know which of their ground turkey products are affected by this recall. Consumers are urged to return any opened or unopened packages of ground turkey items listed on Cargill’s website (www.cargill.com/turkey-recal l) to stores where they were purchased for a full refund. A complete list of the products involved in the recall is attached. Cargill is working closely with its U.S. customers to make certain as much of the product is retrieved as possible. Consumers with questions about recalled ground turkey products may contact Cargill’s consumer relations toll free telephone number (1-888-812-1646).
For food safety inquiries, consumers may contact the USDA’s “Ask Karen” virtual representative available 24 hours a day at AskKaren.gov (http://www.askkaren.gov/ ). The toll-free USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) is available in English and Spanish and can be reached from l0 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Eastern Time) Monday through Friday. Recorded food safety messages are available 24 hours a day.