Meat giant Cargill is recalling 36 million pounds of ground turkey linked to a nationwide salmonella outbreak that has killed one person in California and sickened at least 76 others.
Illnesses in the outbreak date back to March and have been reported in 26 states coast to coast. A Sacramento man is the only known person to die from the salmonella strain. There were also non-fatal cases reported in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Riverside and San Diego counties here in California.
Cargill said Wednesday that it is recalling fresh and frozen ground turkey products produced at the company's Springdale, Ark., plant from Feb. 20 through Aug. 2 due to possible contamination from the strain of salmonella linked to the illnesses.
Company officials said that all ground turkey production has been suspended at the plant until the company is able to determine the source of the outbreak.
"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.
Earlier in the day Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack promised the source of a salmonella outbreak would be annnounced "very, very'' soon.
The illnesses date back to March. Vilsack says the investigation was complicated in part because ground turkey can be in many products.
He emphasized the key to safe ground turkey is cooking the food properly and reading the labels. If consumers have doubts, Vilsack says they should throw the product away.
Vilsack discussed the outbreak after speaking to an International Association of Food Protection meeting in Milwaukee.
A total of 76 people have been made sick from the same strain of the disease. Only the Sacramento man died.