The National Turkey Federation (NTF) released a statement today, in light of the ongoing U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) investigation into a Salmonella Reading outbreak linked to raw turkey, reminding consumers of the importance of practicing good food safety procedures when handling and cooking raw turkey.

“Turkey is a safe and nutritious protein choice for any meal,” said Joel Brandenberger, President of the National Turkey Federation. “Consumers can have the highest confidence in the safety of the turkey products they purchase. Consumers should also understand that they have ultimate control in the fight against foodborne illnesses, like those caused by Salmonella, including Salmonella Reading.  This particular strain of Salmonella is eliminated as effectively as all others by following good food safety practices when handling and cooking turkey, or any raw meat.”

Consumers should follow four simple steps – clean, separate, cook, chill – to help guarantee a safe and healthy meal:

  • Wash your hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds and ensure surfaces are clean both before and after coming in contact with raw poultry. Never rinse your turkey, or any meat or poultry, as that can spread bacteria that might be present around the kitchen.
  • Prevent cross-contamination by using different cutting boards to separate raw poultry from produce and other items you’re preparing.
  • Cook your turkey to a minimum internal temperature of 165 ° F as measured by a food thermometer. Cooking to the proper temperature will kill all bacteria with absolute certainty.
  • Chill leftovers immediately and use or freeze leftovers within three to four days.

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“The turkey industry is dedicated to working with our partners in the federal government to aggressively tackle any food safety issues,” Brandenberger continued. “Turkey producers have focused on controlling Salmonella and other potentially harmful bacteria for decades, and we are now focused on this specific serotype. Since learning of illnesses linked to Salmonella Reading and raw turkey, the industry has come together to share information with each other and food safety officials about techniques and interventions on the farm and in the plant that are most effective in reducing harmful bacteria on products. Understanding this outbreak and controlling all serotypes of Salmonella, including Reading, is the top priority of our industry right now. Nothing is more important than the safety of the food we produce.

“The bottom line is that turkey remains perfectly safe to eat,” said Brandenberger. “The federal government agrees and has joined the industry in emphasizing the importance of food safety in the kitchen. The only way to eliminate Salmonella, including Salmonella Reading, and other potentially harmful bacteria with complete certainty is through proper preparation and handling of meat and poultry products.”