WASHINGTON - (AP) - Meat giant Cargill is recalling 36 millionpounds of ground turkey linked to anationwide salmonella outbreak that has killed one person inCalifornia and sickened at least 76 other people.
Illnesses in the outbreak date back to March and have beenreported in 26 states coast to coast.
Cargill said Wednesday that it is recalling fresh and frozenground turkey products produced at the company's Springdale,Arkansas, plant from Feb. 20 through Aug. 2 due to possiblecontamination from the strain of salmonella linked to theillnesses.
Company officials said that all ground turkey production hasbeen suspended at the plant until the company is able to determinethe source of the outbreak.
"Given our concern for what has happened, and our desire to dowhat is right for our consumers and customers, we are voluntarilyremoving our ground turkey products from the marketplace," saidSteve Willardsen, president of Cargill's turkey processingbusiness.
The Minnesota-based company said it was initiating the recallafter its own internal investigation, an Agriculture Departmentinvestigation and information about the illnesses released by theCDC this week.
The CDC said this week that cultures of ground turkey from fourretail locations between March 7 and June 27 showed contaminationwith the same strain of salmonella, though those samples had notbeen specifically linked to the illnesses. The CDC said preliminaryinformation showed that three of those samples were linked to thesame production establishment, but it did not name that plant.
A chart on the CDC's website shows cases have occurred everymonth since early March, with spikes in May and early June. Thelatest reported cases were in mid-July, although the CDC said somerecent cases may not have been reported yet.
The CDC estimates that 50 million Americans each year get sickfrom food poisoning, including about 3,000 who die. Salmonellacauses most of these cases and federal health officials say they'vemade virtually no progress against it.
The most common symptoms of salmonella are diarrhea, abdominalcramps and fever within eight hours to 72 hours of eating acontaminated product. It can be life-threatening to some withweakened immune systems.