Jennie-O Turkey Store, owned by Hormel Foods Corp., is recalling more than 91,000 pounds of ground turkey after investigators traced some product contaminated with salmonella back to its Barron, Wis., processing plant.
The ground turkey was produced on Sept. 11 and shipped to 23 states, including Minnesota and Wisconsin. While the fresh product is well past its “use by” date of Oct. 1 or Oct. 2, some consumers may have saved it in freezers.
The recalled products are 1-pound packages of Jennie-O’s 93 percent lean ground turkey, 85 percent lean ground turkey, taco-seasoned ground turkey and Italian-seasoned ground turkey. All bear the USDA establishment number P190.
The recall decision comes a week after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Department of Agriculture released an update on a yearlong salmonella outbreak that has proved difficult to both trace and contain. The recalled products match a drug-resistant strain that has caused illnesses in at least 35 states.
Willmar-based Jennie-O, a subsidiary of Austin-based Hormel, is the first company to issue a recall related to the strain, which has sickened 164 people and led to one death in California. This recall alone doesn’t address the original source of this strain of salmonella, which has been found in 29 different manufacturing plants from 19 different companies.
In its recall notice late Thursday, the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service said it is still trying to identify the root source of this widespread outbreak. “Additional product from other companies may also be recalled,” the agency said.
Two of the nation’s three largest turkey producers are based in Minnesota. Just behind Jennie-O is Minnetonka-based Cargill in the No. 3 position. “We are closely monitoring this,” a Cargill representative said Friday. “Cargill has not been contacted by the USDA about a potential need for a recall.”
Federal and state authorities used an unopened package of ground Jennie-O turkey found in the Arizona home of a sickened person to trace it back to the Barron facility. The USDA contacted the company Wednesday evening with findings on this particular case, instigating the recall process.
“On behalf of the thousands of Jennie-O team members, we were concerned to learn that someone became ill after exposure to salmonella in a raw turkey product,” said Steve Lykken, president of Jennie-O.
With Thanksgiving less than a week away, the turkey industry and food-safety experts are reminding consumers of the importance of proper preparation and cooking techniques. “This is a time we want people to celebrate with families not be worried about food safety,” Lykken said. “Everyone can have a safe and happy holiday with some simple best practices.”
Consumers are encouraged to wash their hands, countertops, sinks, cutting boards and utensils before and after coming in contact with raw meat. Avoid cooking stuffing inside the cavity of the bird and measure the meat’s temperature at several spots, like the turkey breast and thigh, to ensure it reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
Several salmonella recalls have been initiated this year in food products ranging from coconut to alfalfa sprouts to packaged breakfast cereal. “Salmonella is in our environment, but we need to all take some simple steps at home to stay safe during the holiday,” said Richard Carlson, Hormel’s vice president of quality management.