An outbreak of Salmonella Reading caused by raw turkey products has sickened 90 people in 26 states and hospitalization was already required in 44.4 percent of those cases, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta announced Thursday.
Variance in turkey products eaten by the sick people - "the outbreak strain has been identified in samples taken from raw turkey pet food, raw turkey products, and live turkeys", the CDC says - has inhibited narrowing the source of either the finished products or now live turkeys.
Among the 61 infected people interviewed by the CDC, 37 reported preparing turkey products that were purchased raw, ranging from whole turkeys to ground meat. Instead, the CDC said, the outbreak, which started in November, has been linked to various brands and products and include raw turkey and live turkeys as well as pet food that contains raw turkey.
Investigators have not identified a common supplier of raw turkey products or live turkeys. According to the report, "This resistance likely will not affect the choice of antibiotic used to treat most people since these antibiotics are not normally used to treat salmonella infections". At this time, the CDC hasn't advised consumers to avoid eating fully cooked turkey products or told retailers to take those products off the shelves.
Always handle raw turkey carefully and cook it thoroughly to prevent food poisoning.
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- Wash your hands before and after preparing or eating food. Your family also can get sick by handling the raw food or by taking care of your pet. The CDC recommended that turkey products, including burgers, casseroles, and sausages, be cooked or reheated to an internal temperature of 165 degrees - including leftovers. "Use a food thermometer to check, and place it in the thickest part of the food", the CDC says.
Don't wash raw poultry before cooking it.
Keep your food preparation area clean by washing utensils, cutting boards, and countertops with hot, soapy water.
The CDC said the outbreak strain has been found in raw turkey pet food in Minnesota, raw turkey samples from 19 slaughter and 6 processing establishments, and from live turkeys in several states.
"In Hawai'i, we love to eat and enjoy gatherings with potlucks and raw foods, which make us especially susceptible to foodborne illnesses", said Peter Oshiro, environmental health program manager for food safety.
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