The USDA reported today that ground turkey “may” be responsible for a Salmonella Heidleberg outbreak that has sickened 77 people in 26 states.  But neither USDA nor CDC have been able to determine the producer of the bad turkey.  No outbreak summary yet from the CDC, and the investigation continues.

Turkey products have caused big Salmonella outbreaks before.  Ground turkey products, several times.  And in 2005, over 300 people were sickened, 56 hospitalized, and 1 dead after eating Salmonella contaminated turkey at Old South Restaurant in South Carolina.  But in that case, a convection oven had possibly malfunctioned, leading to improper and inadequate cooking of the turkey (nothing a well placed thermometer wouldn’t catch though). 

Of course, the outbreaks and recalls are not that surprising.  Last year, USDA FSIS analayzed 873 samples of ground turkey for the presence of Salmonella, finding that 10.2%, compared to 10.7% in 2009 (608 samples) and 15.4% in 2008 (876 samples), were positive.  1,444 samples from whole turkeys generated positives in 4.6% of specimens.  See Salmonella Testing Progress Report


According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), at least 99 people from 23 states, including 10 people who were hospitalized, have become ill with Salmonella serotype Agona infections. Their illnesses were traced to the consumption of Salmonella-contaminated papayas imported from Mexico by McAllen, Texas-based Agromod Produce, Inc. Agromod recalled all papayas sold under the Blondie, Yaya, Mañanita, and Tastylicious brands prior to July 23. The papayas were imported from Mexico and carry the PLU code 4395, which can be found on the sticker on the peel of the papaya.

Illnesses were reported in the following states: Arkansas (1), Arizona (3), California (7), Colorado (1), Georgia (8), Illinois (17), Louisiana (2), Massachusetts (1), Minnesota (3), Missouri (3), Nebraska (2), Nevada (1), New Jersey (1), New Mexico (3), New York (7), Ohio (1), Oklahoma (1), Pennsylvania (2), Tennessee (1), Texas (25), Virginia (2), Washington (5), and Wisconsin (2).