Just a few days before Thanksgiving, the Center for Disease Control is warning consumers of a salmonella outbreak that has been linked to raw turkey products such as ground turkey, turkey pieces and whole turkeys.
According to a news release by the CDC, as of Nov. 5, 164 people infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella. The reports have come from 35 states. 63 people have been hospitalized, and one death has been reported in California.
A single, common supplier of raw turkey products or of live turkeys has not been identified and so it is difficult to tell which products in particular consumers should avoid.
The CDC is not advising that consumers avoid eating properly cooked turkey products, or that retailers stop selling raw turkey products but advises consumers to follow these steps to help prevent Salmonella infection from raw turkey:
• 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 to kill harmful germs. Leftovers should be reheated to 165 degrees. 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.
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• Thaw turkey in the refrigerator, in a sink of cold water that is changed every 30 minutes, or in the microwave. Never thaw your turkey by leaving it out on the counter.
• CDC does not recommend feeding raw diets to pets. Germs like Salmonella in raw pet food can make your pets sick. Your family also can get sick by handling the raw food or by taking care of your pet.