Just in time for Thanksgiving: 4 recalled turkey products to avoid

Daniel Fowler
November 17, 2018

Before Thanksgiving meal preparation gets under way, it can't hurt to brush up on proper raw turkey handling techniques. The products made that day have already shipped.

And consumers with Jennie-O Ground Turkey 93% Lean, Taco Seasoned Ground Turkey, Ground Turkey 85% Lean and Italian Seasoned Ground Turkey in their freezers should toss them out or return them to the store for a full refund.

The products that have been recalled were produced on September 11 and have a "use by" date of October 1 or October 2, but the Food Safety and Inspection Service arm of the USDA is concerned about meat frozen by buyers. The ongoing hunt has found the salmonella strain in raw turkey pet food, ground turkey, turkey patties, and in live turkeys, indicating "it might be widespread in the turkey industry". Salmonella in food is estimated to be responsible for 1 million illnesses a year, with symptoms including vomiting, diarrhea and stomach cramps.

But there hadn't been a recall of any products until Thursday, after the USDA, CDC and Arizona Department of Health Services did a traceback from a sample of Jennie-O ground turkey from the home of a salmonella sufferer. One person died in California and 63 people have gone to the hospital, CNN reported.

The outbreak started in November 2017.

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"When you are coming up on a major holiday where you know consumers are likely to consume the food in question, we think the agency has an obligation to give consumers whatever information it does have", said Laura MacCleery, policy director at the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

Osterholm specializes in food poisoning cases and has had several clients in the past year sickened from salmonella-tainted turkey, including a 5-year-old in Minnesota. "If we had specific products that we could alert consumers to with a Public Health Alert, we would issue one".

Consumer Reports wants the USDA to release the names of the turkey products so people can protect themselves from potential illness. The guidelines include thawing frozen turkey on a plate separate from other foods in order to catch any liquid and contain any potential cross-contamination.

The CDC report describes the salmonella strain as "multidrug-resistant", which isn't great news for anyone who inadvertently consumes contaminated turkey.

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