Major US meat processor Cargill has launched a national recall of 36 million pounds of ground turkey linked to an outbreak of drug-resistant salmonella, blamed for killing one person and sickening 76 others, officials said.
The Arkansas-based Cargill announced the voluntary recall on Wednesday, following a July 29 US public health warning from the US Department of Agriculture that linked the salmonella poisoning to turkey products.
Production of ground turkey products at Cargill's Springdale, Arkansas plant is also being suspended as investigation into the source continues, the meat giant said.
"While facts continue to be gathered, and currently there is no conclusive answer regarding the source of Salmonella Heidelberg contamination, given our concern for what has happened... we are voluntarily removing our ground turkey products from the marketplace," said the head of Cargill's turkey processing business Steve Willardsen.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Monday that the outbreak strain has been reported in 26 states between March 1 and August 1.
Just over a third of those infected with the bacteria were hospitalized. The illnesses are being linked to a virulent strain of salmonella that has been around for decades and is resistant to many commonly prescribed antibiotics, said the CDC.
The CDC urged consumers to cook meat thoroughly to a final temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit (74 Celsius), and said it was continuing its investigation in an attempt to identify the exact source of the bacteria.