Group Pushes Usda to Ban Salmonella Strain after 2nd Outbreak

On behalf of Brown & Crouppen, P.C. posted in Defective Products on Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Agribusiness giant Cargill Inc. has announced a second round of recalls of its ground turkey after testing revealed further contamination of the meat with a drug-resistant strain of salmonella. The recall will spur further calls for the U.S. Department of Agriculture to tighten its rules regarding the strain, which consumer advocates say is an important way to protect consumers from getting food poisoning. In August, Cargill recalled 36 million pounds of turkey after one person died and 107 more became ill from contaminated meat.

USDA testers discovered the bacteria strain, called salmonella Heidelberg, after testing samples from Cargill’s Arkansas plant. The latest recall affects about 185,000 pounds of ground turkey. It comes despite Cargill’s efforts to clean its equipment and encourage better washing policies.

The difficulty of getting rid of a salmonella Heidelberg contamination and the difficulty doctors have in treating it make the possibility of consumers coming in contact especially worrisome. Salmonella Heidelberg is resistant to traditional antibiotics, putting consumers at greater risk. The Center for Science in the Public Interest has been asking the USDA since May to classify the strain, along with three other drug-resistant strains of salmonella, as adulterants. Under federal law, that would make foods contaminated with the bacteria illegal, triggering mandatory routine testing for manufacturers.

Companies such as Cargill generally oppose increased mandatory testing for food-borne contaminates due to cost. However, the USDA did recently classify six strains of E. coli as adulterants, perhaps indicating that it will consider doing the same for the salmonella strains.

Source: ABC News, “Cargill’s Salmonella Setback Shows Strength of Screening,” Katie Moisse, Sep. 13, 2011

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