In response to the Nationwide Salmonella outbreak, Cargill has initiated a recall of ground turkey. On Aug. 2, the City of Evanston announced that the Illinois Department of Public Health, along with the Evanston Health Department were collaborating with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service to investigate a multistate outbreak of Salmonella ser. Heidelberg infections, which the City said in a prepared statement was likely caused by eating ground turkey.

 Evonda Thomas, Evanston Health Department director, said, “We have learned that a total of 77 people infected with the outbreak strain have been reported from 26 states between March 1 and August 1, 2011. Of the seven cases in Illinois with the same type of Salmonella as the outbreak, at least one person has been hospitalized. Reports of illness started on March 12, 2011 with the last case becoming ill on June 29, 2011. Cases range in age from 3 to 60 years and were reported in Cass, Cook, DuPage Madison, Peoria, Will and Williamson counties.”

On Aug. 3, Cargill Value Added Meats Retail, a business unit of Wichita-based Cargill Meat Solutions Corporation, announced “an immediate Class I voluntary recall of approximately 36 million pounds of fresh and frozen ground turkey products produced at the company’s Springdale, Ark., facility from Feb. 20, 2011, through Aug. 2, 2011, due to possible contamination from Salmonella Heidelberg. Cargill is initiating this recall as a result of its internal investigation, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) information that became available on Aug. 1, 2011, as well as an ongoing USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) investigation into multiple illnesses from Salmonella Heidelberg.”

In addition, Cargill said it “has suspended production of ground turkey products at its Springdale, Ark., turkey processing facility until it is able to determine the source of the Salmonella Heidelberg and take corrective actions. Other turkey products produced at Springdale are not part of the recall. Cargill owns four turkey processing facilities in the U.S. and no products from the other three are involved in the recall.”

“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, and our desire to do what is right for our consumers and customers, we are voluntarily removing our ground turkey products from the marketplace,” said Steve Willardsen, president of Cargill’s turkey processing business. “Additionally, we have suspended ground turkey production at our Arkansas facility until the source can be pinpointed and actions to address it are taken. Public health and the safety of consumers cannot be compromised. It is regrettable that people may have become ill from eating one of our ground turkey products and, for anyone who did, we are truly sorry. We go to great lengths to ensure the food we produce is safe and we fully understand that people expect to be able to consume safe food, each serving, every time.”

Cargill is contacting its customers to make certain they know which of their ground turkey products are affected by this recall. Consumers are urged to return any opened or unopened packages of ground turkey items listed on Cargill’s website (www.cargill.com/turkey-recall) to stores where they were purchased for a full refund. Consumers with questions about recalled ground turkey products may contact Cargill’s consumer relations toll free telephone number (1-888-812-1646).