Advocacy groups are urging the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to name the turkey suppliers and brand names involved in a recent salmonella outbreak in time for the Thanksgiving holiday.
Consumer Reports was one of several groups which put pressure on the USDA Wednesday, urging the agency to name all the turkey brands which had issues with drug-resistant strains of salmonella poisoning as the Thanksgiving holiday comes next week.
The CDC said the current strain of salmonella poisoning had been found in live turkeys, turkey pet food, and raw turkey products throughout Minnesota. Several meat processors and slaughterhouses also found the strain in raw turkey products.
“The USDA should immediately make public which turkey producers, suppliers, and brands are involved in this outbreak — especially with Thanksgiving right around the corner,” Jean Halloran, director of Food Policy Initiatives for Consumer Reports, said in a statement. “This information could save lives and help ensure consumers take the precautions needed to prevent anyone in their home from getting sick.”
The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) responded Thursday, stating that the agency had not identified the source of the outbreak and criticized the organizations calling for the agency to name turkey suppliers without hard evidence of a link to the illness.
“If FSIS had the ability to identify the source of this Salmonella strain, then the agency would immediately recall the items,” the agency stated. “If we had specific products that we could alert consumers with a Public Health Alert, we would issue one.”
The FSIS also reiterated that officials are working with state and federal health officials and reassured consumers that turkey products are safe.
“In the meantime, it’s important that consumers know they can purchase and safely consume these products,” the agency added. “The U.S. has the safest food supply in the world and USDA works every day to ensure it.”
Consumer Reports argued that the USDA needs to release the names of the turkey suppliers linked with salmonella outbreaks so consumers can better inform themselves.
However, Consumer Reports said it is not looking for people to go “cold turkey” on the popular Thanksgiving poultry so long as people are careful cooking and handling the turkeys.
Symptoms of salmonella poisoning include fever, diarrhea, and stomach aches which develop 12 to 72 hours after coming into contact with the bacterial strain.
Most people get better within four to seven days without seeking medical attention, but sometimes the illness becomes so severe that those sickened with the illness require hospitalization.
The latest outbreak of salmonella poisoning began in November 2017. As of November 5, 164 people across 35 states came down with salmonella poisoning, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
These instances of salmonella poisoning killed one person in California and sent sixty-three to the hospital, according to the CDC.
The CDC says that the states with the most instances of salmonella poisoning include New York, Illinois, Texas, and Minnesota.