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Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

Should Cargill have recalled more than 35,709,675 pounds of ground turkey? Is it poised to do so? Is FSIS?

Screen Shot 2011-08-10 at 3.17.45 AM.pngAccording to the CDC latest report on August 4, a total of 78 persons infected with the outbreak strain of multi-drug resistant strain Salmonella Heidelberg were reported from 26 states between March 1 and August 3, 2011. The number of ill persons identified in each state is as follows: AL (1), AZ (2), CA (6), GA (2), 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). The 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. Fifty-two percent are male. Among the 60 ill persons with available information, 22 (37%) have been hospitalized. One death has been reported in CA.

As I first reported on August 3 in route between Milwaukee and Seattle after attending the IAFP Conference, Cargill Value Added Meats – Retail (also referred to as CVAM-Retail) announced a Class I Voluntary Fresh Ground Turkey Recall of approximately 35,709,675 pounds of ground turkey products August 3, 2011. The product was linked to the outbreak of Salmonella Heidelberg. All recalled products were produced at the Springdale, AR plant: USDA Establishment Number #P-963.

Within a few hours the FSIS posted the recall information on “approximately 36 million pounds of ground turkey” with “Use or Freeze by Dates of 2/20/11 through 8/23/11.” Days later the FSIS produced a retail list of dozens of pages (stores where the above product was sold).

Many questions remain in addition to the timing of the NARMS positive tests, the illness link and the recall timing: (1) was the 35,709,675 pound recall prompted by the CDC’s March 1 and August 3, 2011 Epi Curve? (2) how much turkey was produced at the Springdale plant during that time frame? (3) did Cargill’s own internal testing find multi-drug resistant strain Salmonella Heidelberg in its product at any earlier time (like, 2010)? (4) Did the FSIS in-plant inspectors know of the positive tests?

  • sam

    Is it safe to say that Cargill has not accepted your offer to settle out of court?