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CDC: “Cook raw turkey thoroughly.”

John Willoughby: Greene Publishing, Inc.

After approximately 90 United States residents have contracted Salmonella, linked to raw turkey products, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is stressing to cook raw turkey thoroughly in order to kill harmful germs. 40 people have been hospitalized and no deaths have been reported.

The first reported cases came in almost one year ago, on Nov. 15, 2017.

According to the CDC, the outbreak strain of Salmonella Reading has been identified in samples of raw turkey pet food in Minnesota,  raw turkey products from 19 slaughter and six processing establishments and live turkeys from several states.

In Florida, approximately four people have contracted the illness, as of July 11, 2018. In interviews, ill people report eating different types and brands of turkey products purchased from many different locations. Two ill people lived in a household where raw turkey pet food was fed to pets.

Salmonella, according to the CDC, causes about 1.2 million illnesses, 23,000 hospitalizations and 450 deaths in the United States every year. Of these, the CDC estimates that food is the source for about one million illnesses, 19,000 hospitalizations and 380 deaths.

The CDC notes that most people infected with Salmonella develop diarrhea, fever and stomach cramps 12 to 72 hours after being exposed to the bacteria. The illness usually lasts four to seven days and most people recover without treatment. In some people, diarrhea may be so severe that the patient needs to be hospitalized. Salmonella infection may spread from the intestines to the bloodstream and then to other places in the body. In rare cases, Salmonella infection can cause death unless the person is treated promptly with antibiotics.

Children younger than five years of age, adults older than 65 years of age and people with weakened immune systems are more likely to severe illness.

The CDC gives tips on how to protect yourself and others from contracting Salmonella infections while handling turkey this holiday season. Always handle raw turkey carefully and cook it thoroughly to prevent food poisoning. The CDC is not advising that consumers avoid eating properly cooked turkey products or that retailers stop selling raw turkey products.

Wash your hands: Salmonella infections can spread from one person to another. Wash hands before and after preparing or eating food, after contact with animals and after using the restroom or changing diapers.

Cook raw turkey thoroughly to kill harmful germs: Turkey breasts, whole turkeys and ground poultry, including turkey burgers, casseroles and sausage should always be cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit to kill harmful germs. Leftovers should be reheated to 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Use a food thermometer to check and place it in the thickest part of the food.

Don't spread germs from raw turkey around food preparation areas: Washing raw poultry before cooking is not recommended. Germs in raw poultry juices can spread to other areas and foods. Thoroughly wash hands, counters, cutting boards and utensils with warm, soapy water after they touch raw turkey. Use a separate cutting board for raw turkey and other raw meats if possible.

The CDC does not recommend feeding raw diets to pets. Germs like Salmonella in raw pet food can make your pets sick. Your family can also get sick by handling the raw food or by taking care of your pet.    

For more information about Salmonella, log onto cdc.gov.

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