Salmonella outbreaks increase in raw turkey; E. coli a threat to romaine lettuce

With Thanksgiving just around the corner in the U.S., consumers should be aware of the recent influx of Salmonella cases linked to raw turkey products.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 74 cases of salmonellosis (an infection with Salmonella) have been reported since the last update on July 19, 2018. This brings the total outbreak tally, which began on November 20, 2017, to 164 illnesses spanning throughout 35 states. Of these, 63 people have been hospitalized and one death has been reported in California.

CNN reports that there are an estimated 1.2 million salmonellosis cases in the U.S. annually. Typically, symptoms from Salmonella are experienced 12 to 72 hours after the bacteria is consumed. Common symptoms include fever, stomach cramps, and diarrhea. Most people recover within a week of consumption; however, more severe illnesses can last longer.

Consumers must be cautious, as the CDC’s investigation into whether there is a single, common supplier of raw turkey products or live turkeys is still ongoing. The outbreak strain has been found in various raw turkey products, turkey patties, raw turkey pet food, as well as in live turkeys, indicating that it may be widespread throughout the turkey industry.

With that being said, the CDC is “NOT advising that consumers avoid eating properly cooked turkey products or that retailers stop selling raw turkey products,” but rather to ensure that turkey is cooked properly prior to consumption.

Good practice when cooking includes thawing turkey in the refrigerator, rather than on the counter, thoroughly washing your hands after handling raw turkey, and cooking turkey to a suitably high internal temperature. To prevent Salmonella infection, the internal temperature of the turkey must reach at least 165°F, which requires an oven temperature of at least 325°F. Remember to avoid cross-contamination in sinks, in which water can splatter onto nearby surfaces, as well as when using knives and other utensils that have touched the raw turkey with foods that will not be cooked.

The other big outbreak this Thanksgiving

The CDC also issued an urgent warning this week advising consumers to avoid romaine lettuce due to the risk of E. coli contamination.

The strain involved with this outbreak is a shiga toxin-producing strain, meaning it comes with the risk of hemolytic uremic syndrome, a life-threatening kidney condition. So far, 32 people have been sickened in the U.S. and 18 in Canada, with 11 hospitalized.

At this point, the outbreak hasn’t been associated with any particular brand or product. Anyone with romaine lettuce of any kind in the fridge is being told to toss it out.

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