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Public Health Alert Issued on 200,000 Pounds of Ground Turkey After Salmonella Outbreak

Self logo Self 4/12/2021 Carolyn L. Todd
a close up of food © Inna/Adobe Stock

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is issuing a public health alert for 211,406 pounds of ground turkey products because they may be contaminated with salmonella. The alert comes after a multistate salmonella outbreak that officials think may be connected to the ground turkey. 

The USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is not issuing a full-on recall on the two tons of raw turkey because they believe that the products are no longer available for purchase in stores, according to the announcement. The affected products all have sell-by dates of January 2021, meaning retailers shouldn't need to pull them from the shelves. However, the FSIS is concerned that the potentially salmonella-tainted poultry could still be sitting in consumers' freezers. 

All of the products were made by Pennsylvania food manufacturer Plainville Brands, LLC, and were sold nationwide under the brand names Nature’s Promise, Wegmans, and Plainville Farms. The affected products included numerous lots of one- and three-pound packages of lean ground turkey manufactured at the Plainville Brands plant between December 18 and December 29, 2020. They're labeled either 93% lean and 7% fat, or 94% lean and 6% fat, and will have use by/freeze/sell-by dates of specific days in January 2021 on the front of the package. The products will also contain establishment number EST. P-244 inside the USDA mark of inspection. If you're concerned you may have affected products stored in your freezer, see the USDA's complete list for the specific use by/freeze/sell-by dates.

The salmonella outbreak spans 12 states and includes 28 cases of infection starting between December 28, 2020 and March 4, 2021. One person who became sick reported eating ground turkey produced by Plainville Brands. Investigators also found another (unopened) package of Plainville Brands–made ground turkey in the patient's home that tested positive for Salmonella Hadar, a strain of salmonella closely related genetically to the one affecting that person. But so far, public health and regulatory officials from the USDA, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and local agencies have managed to connect that single case to the ground turkey in question. 

It's worth noting here that given that just a single case of salmonella infection has been linked directly to the Plainville-produced turkey products at this point, the USDA says that not all of the salmonella infections are necessarily related to this production plant. And, as the agency and public health officials continue their investigation, it's possible they will find different products made at other facilities that also contributed to the outbreak. 

Salmonella infections are common and usually not serious. According to the CDC, typical symptoms include diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps, which can come on anywhere from six hours to six days after infection, and last for four to seven days. Most people recover without seeking medical attention, but hospitalization and/or a course of antibiotics may be needed for individuals experiencing severe illness (or those at risk of severe illness, like infants, people over 65, and those with weakened immune systems). Rarely, severe salmonella infection can spread into the bloodstream and other parts of the body if not treated with antibiotics. 

Get in touch with your doctor if you're experiencing diarrhea and a fever over 102 degrees Fahrenheit; diarrhea that doesn't improve after three days; bloody stools; prolonged vomiting; or signs of dehydration. And if you find that you have any of the affected ground turkey products in your freezer, you should throw them away or return them to the store where you bought them. 

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