Header graphic for print
Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

Cargill to Recall 35,709,675 Pounds of Fresh Ground Turkey Due to Salmonella Heidelberg Risk

This just in – Cargill Value Added Meats – Retail  (also referred to as CVAM-Retail) will announce a Class I Voluntary Fresh Ground Turkey Recall of approximately 35,709,675 pounds of ground turkey products August 3, 2011.  The product may be linked to an outbreak of Salmonella Heidelberg.  All recalled products were produced at the Springdale, AR plant:  USDA Establishment Number #P-963.

cargill_logo_3.pngAccording to the CDC, a total of 77 persons infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Heidelberg have been reported from 26 states between March 1 and August 1, 2011. The number of ill persons identified in each state is as follows: AL (1), AZ (2), CA (6), GA (1), IA (1), IL (7), IN (1), KY (2), LA (1), MA (1), MI (10), MN (1), MO (2), MS (1), NC (1), NE (2), NV (1), NY (2), OH (10), OK (1), OR (1), PA (5), SD (3), TN (2), TX (9), and WI (3).

Among persons for whom information is available, illnesses began on or after March 9, 2011. Ill persons range in age from less than 1 year to 88 years old, with a median age of 23 years old. Forty-eight percent are female. Among the 58 ill persons with available information, 22 (38%) have been hospitalized. One death has been reported.

Good for Cargill for stepping up and recalling the product, and for this:

“It is regrettable that people may have become ill from eating one of our ground turkey products and, for anyone who did, we are truly sorry,” Steve Willardsen, president of Cargill’s turkey processing business, said in a written statement.

Other Large Recalls in my memory:

The Westland/Hallmark recall in 2008 was by far the largest ever – 143,000,000 pounds. (Class II Recall)

Listeria contamination – one in Michigan (Bil-Mar) in 1999 for 35 million pounds and a poultry recall in Pennsylvania (Pilgrim’s Pride) in 2002 for 27 million pounds.

Number 4 – 1977 Hudson Foods Co., with 25 million pounds of ground beef sold to quick-service retailers. This was tied to an E. coli O157:H7 outbreak of about 20 illnesses.

Number 5 was 21.7 million pounds of frozen ground beef patties in 2007 liked to Topps. There were more than 30 E. coli O157:H7 illnesses in eight states.

Number 6 was ConAgra Foods of Colorado with 18.6 million pounds of beef. The outbreak was in 10 states that sickened at least 34 people.

According to efoodalert, Cargill has announced an immediate recall of fresh and frozen ground turkey meat produced at its Springdale, Arkansas production facility from February 20, 2011 through August 2nd.

The turkey meat, which may be contaminated with Salmonella Heidelberg, is being recalled as a result of Cargill’s “…internal investigation, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) information that became available on Aug. 1, 2011, as well as an ongoing USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) investigation into multiple illnesses from Salmonella Heidelberg.“

Cargill’s recall announcement continues as follows:

Additionally, Cargill has suspended production of ground turkey products at its Springdale, Ark., turkey processing facility until it is able to determine the source of the Salmonella Heidelberg and take corrective actions. Other turkey products produced at Springdale are not part of the recall. Cargill owns four turkey processing facilities in the U.S. and no products from the other three are involved in the recall.

“While facts continue to be gathered, and currently there is no conclusive answer regarding the source of Salmonella Heidelberg contamination, given our concern for what has happened, and our desire to do what is right for our consumers and customers, we are voluntarily removing our ground turkey products from the marketplace,” said Steve Willardsen, president of Cargill’s turkey processing business. “Additionally, we have suspended ground turkey production at our Arkansas facility until the source can be pinpointed and actions to address it are taken. Public health and the safety of consumers cannot be compromised. It is regrettable that people may have become ill from eating one of our ground turkey products and, for anyone who did, we are truly sorry. We go to great lengths to ensure the food we produce is safe and we fully understand that people expect to be able to consume safe food, each serving, every time.”

“Suspending production until we can determine the source of the Salmonella Heidelberg at our Arkansas facility, and take corrective action, is the right thing to do,” stated Willardsen. “We are closely examining every aspect of our production process and have identified enhancements to our procedures in our efforts to ensure safe food. Eliminating food borne illness is always our goal.

Here is a complete list of the recalled products, as provided by Cargill:

The products involved are Ground Turkey. All packages include Est. P-963 on the label. Products are listed below:

Ground Turkey Chubs – Use or Freeze by Dates of 2/20/11 through 8/23/11

10 lbs. Chubs of Honeysuckle White Fresh Natural Lean Ground Turkey with Natural Flavorings

10 lbs. Chubs of Unbranded Ground Turkey w/ Natural Flavoring 2 Pack

80 oz. (5 lbs.) chubs of Riverside Ground Turkey with Natural Flavoring

10 lb. Chub of Natural Lean Ground Turkey with Natural Flavorings

16 oz. (1 lb.) chubs of Fresh Lean HEB Ground Turkey 93/7

16 oz. (1 lb.) chubs of Fresh HEB Ground Turkey 85/15

16 oz. (1 lb.) chubs of Honeysuckle White 93/7 Fresh Ground Turkey with Natural Flavoring

4-1 Pound Packages of Honeysuckle White Ground Turkey with Natural Flavoring Value Pack

16 oz. (1 lb.) chubs of Honeysuckle White 85/15 Fresh Ground Turkey

48 oz. (3 lb.) chubs of Honeysuckle White 85/15 Fresh Ground Turkey

85% Ground Turkey – Use or Freeze by Dates of 2/20/11 through 8/23/11

19.2 oz. (1.2 lb.) trays of Honeysuckle White 85/15 Ground Turkey

19.2 oz. (1.2 lb.) trays of Honeysuckle White Taco Seasoned Ground Turkey Colored with Paprika

20 oz. (1 lb. 4 oz.) trays of Safeway Fresh Ground Turkey with Natural Flavorings * 15% Fat

19.2 oz. (1 lb. 3.2 oz.) trays of Kroger Ground Turkey Fresh 85/15

48.0 oz. (3 lb.) trays of Kroger Ground Turkey Fresh 85/15

48.0 oz. (3 lbs.) trays of Honeysuckle White 85/15 Ground Turkey Family Pack

16 oz. (1 lb.) trays of Honeysuckle White 85/15 Ground Turkey

19.2 oz. (1.2 lbs.) trays of Honeysuckle White Seasoned Italian Style Ground Turkey with Natural Flavorings

20 oz. (1.25 lb.) trays of Honeysuckle White 85/15 Ground Turkey (NOTE: Sold in Texas only at Randall’s and Tom Thumb, Use or Freeze by 03/12/11 through 05/05/11)

93% Ground Turkey – Use or Freeze by Dates of 2/20/11 through 8/23/11

19.2 oz. (1.20 lb.) trays of Honeysuckle White 93/7 Lean Ground Turkey

48 oz. (3.0 lbs.) trays of Honeysuckle White 93/7 Lean Ground Turkey Family Pack

19.2 oz. (1.2 lb.) trays of Fit & Active Lean Ground Turkey 93/07

19.2 oz. (1.2 lbs.) trays of Giant Eagle Ground Turkey Fresh & Premium Lean

19.2 oz. (1 lb 3.2 oz.) trays of Kroger Ground Turkey Fresh Lean 93/7

20 oz. (1.25 lb.) trays of Honeysuckle White 93/7 Lean Ground Turkey

Ground Patties

16.0 oz. (1 lb.) trays of Honeysuckle White Ground Turkey Patties

Use or Freeze by Dates of 2/20/11 through 8/23/11

16 oz. (1 lb.) trays of Kroger Ground Seasoned Turkey Patties Fresh 85/15

Use or Freeze by Dates of 2/20/11 through 8/23/11

16.0 oz. (1 lb.) trays of Shady Brook Farms Ground Turkey Burgers with Natural Flavoring

NOTE: ONLY THE FOLLOWING USE OR FREEZE BY DATES ARE AFFECTED: 07/09/11, 07/10/11, 07/11/11, 07/15/11, 07/16/11, 07/21/11, 07/22/11, 07/24/11, 08/01/11 AND 08/04/11

Frozen Ground Turkey – Production Dates of 2/20/11 through 8/2/11

16 oz. (1 lb.) chubs of Honeysuckle White Ground Turkey with Natural Flavoring

16 oz. (1 lb.) chubs of Spartan Ground Turkey

48 oz. (3 lb.) chubs of Honeysuckle White 85/15 Ground Turkey

40 lb. Bulk Packed Ground Turkey with Natural Flavoring For Food Service Use Only

  • John Munsell

    A tip of the hat to Cargill, who is quoted above as stating that it has suspended production of ground turkey products at its Springdale Arkansas plant involved until Cargill has determined the SOURCE of the Salmonella Heidelberg and taken corrective actions.
    Cargill has more interest in determining the SOURCE of contamination than USDA/FSIS has when discovering pathogen-contaminated meat. FSIS: take a lesson from Cargill! The agency has yet to acknowledge that recurring problems will only be eliminated when corrective actions are implemented at the SOURCE. FSIS is perfectly content to commence and finish investigations at the downstrem DESTINATION facilities which unwittingly purchase meat which was previously contaminated with invisible pathogens such as Salmonella and E.coli.
    Although FSIS hosted a Traceback public hearing in DC in March, 2010, the agency has accomplished precious little to implement policies allowing tracebacks to the SOURCE. To its credit, the agency now requires the inspection force to document the SOURCE of meat being sampled (by the agency) at the time of sample collection. This policy should have been included in Testing 101, but embarrassingly, was not required (even allowed) until the fall of 2010. As such, FSIS has lived up to its pre-HACCP promise that the agency would utilize a “Hands Off” non-involvement deregulated role once HACCP was implemented by the industry.
    Good for Cargill!
    John Munsell
    John Munsell

  • http://www.learn2serve.com/food-handler-training/ food handler certification

    I believe this is the reason why some states require certification from people involved in food provision process. It’s not only the health of end consumers that are at stake but also the business itself. Imagine how much would it cost if all your products are recalled due to mishandling.

  • http://Http://LaurenGolanty.posterous.com Lauren Golanty

    About a year ago, I started buying the vast majority of my meat products at farmers markets. It’s pricier, and when I can’t afford it, I hold off on eating meat, opting for a mostly vegetarian diet for the week.
    I know the farmers. I have never gotten sick, but if I did, I know who to ask about it.
    35 Million lbs of turkey? 35 million pounds. When I try to envision that, I’m grateful to have started buying from farmers. It makes me feel safer. From an animal to 35 million lbs of animals scares me. I’m not lecturing, Cargill did as best they could it seems, and people have to live, but it’s something to consider.

  • Heather

    I’ll be digging through my freezer in a few, but what the heck is a “chub”? The list of recalled products doesn’t really contain enough information for the average cnsumer.

  • Justin

    Heather: The word “chub” is an industry term for those plastic tubes of ground meat, rather than ground meat packed in a tray. Hope this helps. (See this website for an example: http://www.butterball.com/product_category/ground-turkey )
    It is kind of confusing to average consumers who don’t know this terminology. I’ve also run into that same trouble when they recall something based on a tracking number but we have no idea how to find it on the package.

  • Theresa Kentner

    Heather, the chubs are the cylindrical tubes of meat that many different ground meats are sold in.

    http://tinyurl.com/3pc5q68

  • Minkpuppy

    John,

    The traceback isn’t that complicated in poultry processing due to the integration of the industry. Cargill contracts growers around Springdale to grow the turkeys used in this plant so there’s 3 possible scenarios here: 1) All or most of Cargill’s growers have infected flocks or 2) Salmonella has somehow integrated itself into the plant environment or 3) all of the above. They have a lot of investigating and clean up ahead of them. Not sure if they have a vaccination program but if they did, it failed them miserably. If I were to guess by their actions of shutting down the facility, I’d say they think Salmonella has embedded itself into the plant environment as well as being a flock problem.

    These illnesses have been going on for months. At some point during Cargill’s own testing, they surely recognized a higher number than usual of Salmonella positives even if FSIS samples were coming back negative. If they did, what action, if any, did they take to correct the problem?

    My experience with large poultry plants tells me that the favorite thing to do is jack up the chlorine level in the chill water and pray it kills the Salmonella. That’s not necessarily the case here, but it wouldn’t surprise me any.

    Of course, because of the HACCP fiasco and a number of other idiotic policies, FSIS can’t act on the plant’s own testing results so they had to sit idly by until now when people are sick.

  • Jemster

    I need to go to the grocery. Where can I find out what the poison meat-of-the-week is?