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Salmonella-Tainted Turkey Sickens 77 and Kills 1

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Be careful if you have plans to use ground turkey in your family dinners any time soon. According to recent reports, 26 states, including Michigan, have received dozens of reports of Salmonella-related illnesses tied to the consumption of ground turkey. In fact, between March 1 and August 1, Michigan was one of the states with the most reported cases of Salmonella-related illnesses.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service issued a warning last week alerting consumers to cook fresh or frozen ground turkey until it reaches at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit on a food thermometer. In addition, public health officials are still investigating the source of the contaminated turkey and believe that it originates from one facility. Other consumer advocacy groups argue that the USDA hasn’t gone far enough in warning against the consumption of the contaminated turkey, and instead call for the agency to categorize antibiotic-resistant strains of Salmonella as "adulterants". By categorizing meat contaminated with these strains of Salmonella, the USDA would be required to test for those strains in food prior to it reaching the tables of consumers. So far, no recalls have been issued for the contaminated meat.

The turkey is contaminated with a antibiotic-resistant strain of Salmonella known as the heidelberg strain. Most people infected with the Salmonella develop diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps approximately 12 to 72 hours after exposure. However, this particular strain can cause diarrhea severe enough to require hospitalization. Older adults, infants, and those with impaired immune systems are more likely to become severely ill.