One person has died in California from salmonella poisoning, and seventy-six people in 26 states have been sickened from the same strain that appears to be linked to ground turkey.
Thus far, government officials have declined to say who produced the meat or initiate a recall, despite a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention claiming this salmonella strain is resistant to many commonly prescribed antibiotics.
According to the CDC, the illnesses date back to March, and cultures of ground turkey from four retail locations between March and June showed contamination with the same strain of salmonella. The CDC claims three samples were linked to the same production establishment but will NOT name the retailers or the manufacturers.
The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) sent out an alert about the illnesses late last week telling consumers to properly cook their turkey, which can decrease the chances of salmonella poisoning. But FSIS provided consumers no additional warnings about the source of the tainted meat.
That means salmonella contaminated turkey has been knowingly distributed to the public for five months, and continues to be sold; we can expect more deaths and more people becoming sick while the government stands by and does NOTHING.
The states with the highest number sickened were Michigan and Ohio, 10 illnesses each, while nine illnesses were reported in Texas. Illinois had seven, California six and Pennsylvania five.
According to Bloomberg, University of Pennsylvania bioethicist Art Caplan said the government’s handling of the outbreak raises ethical questions about why the public wasn’t warned sooner.
“You’ve got to protect the public health. That’s their first and primary value — not industry, not any other goal. They have to warn as quickly as they think there’s reasonable evidence for concern,” Caplan said.
Caplan said that uncertainty about the outbreak’s source might explain the long silence, but added, “the moral duty is to really get the word out as soon as you have evidence of a problem.”
FSIS claims there is little epidemiological information available conclusively linking these illnesses to any specific product or establishment, and considers it inappropriate to issue a recall notice.
CDC spokeswoman Lola Russell said Tuesday it can take three to four weeks to confirm one case. Identifying an outbreak can take considerably longer than that when cases of foodborne illness occur sporadically, in several states, as has happened in the current outbreak, shel said.
The most common symptoms of salmonella poisoning to watch out for are diarrhea, abdominal cramps and fever within eight hours to 72 hours of eating a contaminated product. Salmonella poisoning can be fatal, especially to those with weakened immune systems.