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By: Katie Burns   Date: 8/4/11

Over the past few days, there has been media coverage reporting on an increasing number of individuals who have fallen ill with salmonellosis associated with having eaten ground turkey.  The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that 77 people in 26 states have been infected with this strain of salmonella in the U.S. since March 1 of this year, with about half of these people having indicated eating ground turkey in the days prior to their symptoms appearing.  It was announced on Wednesday that a Class I recall was issued for the associated ground turkey products, which came out of one processing facility. 

Unfortunately there have been a number of illnesses and fatalities associated with this recall, however here are a few basics to help keep you and your family safe and to reduce the risk of foodborne illness.

This outbreak of salmonellosis and the related recall will likely have you asking the question – what should I do to stay safe from foodborne illness? There are two key areas where you can take action to keep your family safe: recall safety and food safety.

RECALL SAFETY
First and foremost we should all become familiar with Recall Basics, a simple, practical set of guidelines to follow whenever there is a food recall in effect.  It’s important that if the food product being recalled is one that you or your family regularly eats or purchases that you check the recall notice to determine exactly which foods have been recalled and check to see if you have those products in your home.  There are five easy steps to follow once you’ve discovered that you have a recalled food product in your home.  They include:

• Do not eat the product
• Do not provide the product to others (e.g., do not give to food banks, pets, etc.)
• Dispose of the product carefully
• Do not puncture or otherwise open the product
• Wash your hands with warm, soapy water after handling the product

FOOD SAFETY
While a food recall is related to a specific contamination – such as salmonella, there are simple food safety practices that should be followed at all times—not just when foodborne illness or a food recall is in the news! 

• CLEAN:
   o Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 30 seconds before preparing or consuming food and before and after handling raw meat and poultry.
   o Wash cutting boards, dishes and utensils with hot soapy water.
   o Clean up spills and juices from raw food products right away,

• SEPARATE:
   o Keep raw meat, fish and poultry away from other food that isn’t going to be cooked.
   o Use different cutting boards, dishes and utensils for raw meat, poultry and egg products than for the cooked food or other food that is ready to eat (like salads).

• COOK:
   o Cook meat, poultry, seafood, and egg products to their safe internal temperature before eating.
   o Use a food thermometer to determine that the food has been cooked to its safe internal temperature.

• CHILL:
   o Refrigerate or freeze raw meat, poultry and seafood within two hours of purchasing it (or one hour if it’s above 90⁰F).
   o Refrigerate cooked meat, poultry and seafood within two hours after cooking.

Following these basic food safety practices and staying aware during a food recall will help keep you and your family safe and reduce the risk of foodborne illness!

Here are a few more resources for information on food safety and food recalls:
• A Consumer’s Guide to Food Safety Risks
• Food Safety Resource Page
• The Partnership for Food Safety Education
• The Food Safety and Inspection Service
 

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