Thanksgiving Warning: Contaminated Turkey Causing Illness, Death in 35 States

November 15, 2018Nov 15, 2018

Thanksgiving is one of the happiest times of the year. Families gather together to give thanks for the blessings God has given them.

It's certainly not supposed to include foodborne illness. However, that's just what Consumer Reports is warning against.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people have been getting ill from turkey contaminated with salmonella since November 2017. The rate of illness hasn't slowed down either.

"As of Nov. 5, 2018, 164 people in 35 states have been infected. Sixty-three people have been hospitalized and one person in California has died. The states most affected include Texas, Minnesota, Illinois and New York," reported ABC.

Public health and regulatory officials are under pressure to identify the turkey brands linked to the recent salmonella outbreak. As of yet, they have not released the list.

“The USDA should immediately make public which turkey producers, suppliers, and brands are involved in this outbreak — especially with Thanksgiving right around the corner,” Jean Halloran, director of Food Policy Initiatives for Consumer Reports, said in a statement. “This information could save lives and help ensure consumers take the precautions needed to prevent anyone in their home from getting sick.”

However, the FDA says they have not released a list because they have not found the source of the outbreak. They said they are working around the clock to discover the brands responsible for the illness.

"To be abundantly clear, FSIS has NOT identified a source or supplier of the product or products that are making consumers ill, but we continue to work around the clock with our federal and state public health partners to solve this."

Salmonella infection can cause symptoms of what is commonly referred to as “food poisoning.” Symptoms include fever, stomach aches, and diarrhea, which typically develop within 12 to 72 hours after being exposed to the bacteria. Most people recover within four to seven days without treatment.

For some, the illness causes dehydration so severe that it requires hospitalization. There is also risk of the infection spreading to the bloodstream. People at higher risk for severe illness are children under the age of 5, adults over the age of 65, and people with weakened immune systems.

The strain of salmonella causing the outbreak has also been found in samples from live turkeys, raw turkey products, and turkey pet food in Minnesota, the CDC said. This is the same strain that has been isolated from ill people.

"The salmonella strain isolated from these samples is closely related genetically to the salmonella strain from ill people," the CDC said.

The CDC is not advising consumers to avoid eating properly cooked turkey products or that retailers stop selling raw turkey products. However, they do recommend that turkey be handled carefully—thoroughly wash hands, counters, cutting boards, and utensils that touched raw turkey.

The turkey must also be cooked through. Turkey is safe at 165°F, measured by placing a thermometer in the thickest part of the food.

This is scary! Share this with friends and family to make sure they cook their turkey properly. In other news, Melania Trump responded with fire after Michelle Obama criticized her for not asking for her help on how to be the first lady. 

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