National Turkey Federation Statement on CDC Investigation of Salmonella Reading
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) announced it is investigating multistate illnesses attributed to Salmonella Reading. Epidemiologic evidence suggests raw turkey products and raw turkey pet food are possible sources. No specific product, brand, facility or company has been linked to the illnesses, nor is the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommending consumers stop consuming any turkey products. This is simply an announcement that the CDC is looking into a number of human illnesses reported over the last six months in multiple states.
Food safety is a top priority for the turkey producers and turkey companies take great pride in providing safe, nutritious and delicious food for consumers. Although National Turkey Federation members work diligently to prevent foodborne bacteria on their farms and in processing, it is well known that bacteria are naturally present in the environment and as a result, raw meat and poultry products may contain bacteria. That is why proper handling and preparation of raw foods are so important for consumers to know, understand and follow.
There are no products being recalled in association with this announcement. When following safe handling instructions and cooking properly to 165°F as measured by a food thermometer, consumers can continue to have full confidence in the turkey products they consume. The U.S Department of Agriculture and the National Turkey Federation recommend properly cooking poultry to an internal temperature of 165°F, as measured by a food thermometer, to ensure meat is safe to eat. As with all fresh meat and produce, consumers should wash their hands and cooking utensils thoroughly, avoid cross contamination with other foods, cook meat to the proper internal temperature as defined by USDA and refrigerate promptly to prevent foodborne illness.
While more than half of the Salmonella isolates examined for antibiotic resistance showed resistance to one or more antibiotics, none of these are routinely used to treat Salmonellosis. Multiple antibiotic options are still available to treat foodborne illness in people. Regardless of if a strain of Salmonella is resistant to an antibiotic, it is still susceptible to being killed by cooking.
The turkey industry is cooperating fully with the CDC and USDA in their investigation. Our members are individually reviewing their Salmonella control programs in all phases of turkey production as well as working collectively through NTF to address this and all strains of Salmonella. The National Turkey Federation supports ongoing research related to turkey health and food safety and supports USDA’s Fight Bac! consumer food safety education program.
For consumers, the bottom line is that all turkey is safe when properly cooked (165⁰F) and handled, and that turkey producers and processors are continually working to make them even safer. We are pleased with the progress we have made in reducing Salmonella and continue to look for scientific and technological innovations that would help us control naturally occurring pathogen in food products.
More details about the investigation can be found on the CDC’s website at https://www.cdc.gov/salmonella/outbreaks.html. Consumers looking for safe food handling information can visit www.eatturkey.com, Fight Bac! or USDA’s Meat & Poultry Hotline.