Raw turkey has been the result of an ongoing outbreak of Salmonella that has affected people across the country.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported last Thursday that 164 people have gotten sick and one person has died as a result of salmonella-tainted raw turkey. The ongoing outbreak has been in effect since July, according to the CDC, and has happened in 35 states.
Lab tests indicated there are multiple sources of origin. Products that contain raw turkey (such as pet food, ground turkey, and even live turkey) were found to be the culprit for the outbreak. There has not been a specific recall of certain brands or products as of yet, though the CDC believes the source could be widespread.
The National Turkey Federation said it is cooperating with the investigation. “Our members have individually reviewed their Salmonella control programs in all phases of turkey production and are working collectively through NTF to address this and all strains of Salmonella,” it said in a statement last week.
The NTF incorporates vaccinations and sanitation as part of its turkey production. Employees may be required to wear protective boots and clothing to avoid being exposed to pathogens from the strange looking bird.
CDC epidemiologist Colin Basler said the agency is receiving new illnesses on a weekly basis, according to the Associated Press.
Traditionally prepared American turkey on Thanksgiving is still safe to eat. The agency does not advise that “consumers avoid eating properly cooked turkey products, or that retailers stop selling raw turkey products.”
As long as turkey is cooked and handled properly, consumers should not have to worry about salmonella infection. That includes preventative measures such as washing hands, avoiding the spread of raw germs in food preparation areas, and cooking the meat thoroughly to at least 165 degrees.
The CDC also recommends thawing raw turkey in the fridge rather than on a kitchen counter. At least three people reported falling ill after living in a household where raw turkey was fed to pets. The CDC strongly advises against giving raw meat to pets in general.
Salmonella causes over one million infections per year, according to the CDC. The symptoms include diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramping. Elderly persons and young children are at a higher risk of severe symptoms.