Cargill Value Added Meats Retail, a business unit of Wichita-based Cargill Meat Solutions Corporation, announced an immediate Class I voluntary recall of approximately 36 million pounds of fresh and frozen ground turkey products produced at the company's Springdale, Ark., facility from Feb. 20, 2011, through Aug. 2, 2011, due to possible contamination from Salmonella Heidelberg. Cargill is initiating this recall as a result of its 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.
The products subject to recall today bear the establishment number "P-963" inside the USDA mark of inspection, and include ground turkey chubs, packages of 85% and 93% ground turkey, turkey patties and frozen ground turkey. They were produced under a variety of store brand names as well as Cargill’s Honeysuckle White brand.
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 foodborne illness is always our goal."
This recall follows a July 29, 2011 FSIS Public Health Alert that was initiated due to concerns about illnesses caused by Salmonella Heidelberg that may be associated with use and consumption of ground turkey. A total of 79 persons infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Heidelberg have been reported from 26 states between March 1 and August 3, 2011. The outbreak strain of Salmonella Heidelberg is resistant to several commonly prescribed antibiotics. Among the ill persons with available information, 22 (38%) have been hospitalized and 1 death has been reported. As a result of the epidemiologic and traceback investigations, as well as in-plant findings, FSIS determined that there is a link between the Cargill ground turkey products and this illness outbreak. FSIS is continuing to work with CDC, affected state public health partners, and the company on the investigation.
Source: FSIS, Cargill Meat Solutions