Last Friday, the U.S.D.A. issued an alert warning consumers to fully cook ground turkey. Ground turkey is a popular substitute for ground beef for grilled burgers. It is not illegal to sell meat contaminated with salmonella; cooking the meat thoroughly can destroy the pathogen.
The agency also said that four ground turkey samples tested as part of a routine nationwide sampling program were found to be contaminated with a strain of salmonella that had a genetic fingerprint that matched the outbreak strain. The CDC has found specific brands of turkey at stores with this strain of salmonella.
The Center for Science in the Public Interest petitioned the USDA in May to declare this strain of salmonella an adulterant. Because the salmonella Heidelberg strain is antibiotic-resistant, those infected are more likely to require hospitalization, the CDC reports.
The alert warns customers to strictly follow cooking instructions located on the package to avoid further infection, but did not issue any recalls on ground turkey products due to lack of data. No meat has yet been recalled.
Eating ground turkey is the likely source of this outbreak.
Salmonella illnesses can cause diarrhea, stomach cramps and fever.
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, USA