And now we are talking turkey. Raw turkey and live turkeys seem to be the source of yet another Salmonella outbreak in 2018. This time Salmonella Reading is the culprit. As of .July 19, 2018, the outbreak has already sickened at least 90 people in 26 states, resulting in 40 hospitalizations, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Unless you are a coyote, you may be saying, “but I don’t eat raw turkey or live turkeys.” That’s probably why the CDC “is not advising that consumers avoid eating properly cooked turkey products, or that retailers stop selling raw turkey products.”
Instead, the CDC is re-emphasizing the following standard food safety steps:
- Wash your hands. When is this not a recommendation? You should do this frequently and thoroughly especially before and after preparing and eating food, touching animals, and changing diapers. Please don’t change diapers while preparing food.
- Cook raw turkey thoroughly. Before you gobble gobble turkey cook it through and through. This means reaching an internal temperature of 165°F.
- Don’t spread germs from raw turkey around food preparation areas. Thoroughly wash or dispose of anything else that touches raw turkey. That means counter tops, cutting boards, dishware, utensils, and anything that you use to wrap the turkey. Note that dressing a turkey does not mean putting clothes on it.
- Don’t feed raw turkey to pets. A dog with diarrhea ain’t a pretty sight. Plus your pet may end up smearing the raw turkey elsewhere.
Again, none of these recommendations are new or specially designed just for an outbreak situation. Once the outbreak abates, don’t revert to eating raw turkey-sicles or licking turkey cutting boards clean. Essentially the outbreak is a reminder to be careful with raw turkey.
Does it seem like 2018 is the year of diarrhea for multiple reasons? Even though we are only a few weeks past the mid-point of 2018, you could already have quite a meal or even a buffet with all the different food items on the CDC’s list of Salmonella outbreaks. Take a look at the 10 outbreaks so far linked to food:
- Raw Turkey Products – Salmonella Infections
- Hy-vee Spring Pasta Salad – Salmonella Sandiego
- Kellogg’s Honey Smacks Cereal – Salmonella Mbandaka
- Pre-Cut Melon – Salmonella Adelaide
- Shell Eggs – Salmonella Braenderup
- Dried Coconut – Salmonella Typhimurium
- Chicken Salad – Salmonella Typhimurium
- Kratom – Salmonella I 4,,12:b:-
- Raw Sprouts – Salmonella Montevideo
- Frozen Shredded Coconut – Salmonella I 4,,12:b:- and Salmonella Newport
And here are the 2 outbreaks linked to animals:
That’s already a total of 12. The turkey outbreak just adds to the CDC Salmonella outbreak list for 2018, which was already longer than any of the lists from the past 5 years when I wrote about the Honey Smacks cereal outbreak.
So what do you think? Random upswing or is something fowl with food safety practices? Food safety advocates have expressed concerns that President Donald Trump’s administration is cutting the budgets of the government’s food safety efforts and relaxing food safety regulations. For example, earlier this year, Suzy Khimm writing for NBC News quoted consumer and worker-safety advocates as saying that proposed changes to meat inspection could make food contamination more likely. Also, Scott Cohn wrote for a piece for CNBC entitled, “The American Greed Report: Food safety measures face cuts in Trump budget.”
With each new Salmonella outbreak in 2018, it seems more and more likely that something more than just random variation is happening. The big question is whether the Trump administration is considering and studying how potential changes in food safety monitoring and regulations may affect consumer health before enacting those changes. As our study published in the journal Public Health Reports demonstrated, a foodborne illness outbreak can end up being quite costly to businesses that serve food. The broader societal impact of such outbreaks is even greater. Making food safety regulations more lax may seem to save food companies money, but at what cost?