(CBS NEWS) – Just a week before Thanksgiving, concerns are rising over an ongoing outbreak of salmonella linked to raw turkeys. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says over the past year, there have been 164 illnesses in 35 states, including one death in California. About half of those sickened had to be hospitalized.
“Most people get sick between 12 and 72 hours after coming into contact with salmonella bacteria,” the CDC’s Dr. Colin Basler told CBS News. “Most people get diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and a fever.”
Children under 5, the elderly, and people with weakened immune systems are more likely to have severe illness from contaminated food that could lead to hospitalization.
Salmonella has been detected in ground turkey, raw turkey pet food and live turkeys, an indication the bacteria is widespread in the turkey industry. A common supplier has not been identified.
Consumer Reports is urging the USDA to publicly identify brands of turkeys that have been linked to the outbreak. So far, federal health officials have not named any companies or ordered a recall.
It’s a good reminder to be especially careful when handling raw turkey in the kitchen this holiday season. That starts with thawing in the refrigerator, not on the countertop.
“We want to make sure people are washing their hands after handling raw turkey and making sure people are cooking turkey to an internal temperature of 165 degrees,” Basler said. “If you cook turkey to the internal temperature of 165 degrees this strain of salmonella should die.”
That goes for leftovers too. They should also be reheated to an internal temperature of 165 degrees. Use a food thermometer to make sure foods have have reached a safe temperature before serving.
Consumer Reports also recommends you don’t wash raw poultry before cooking, as this can spread germs. And be sure to thoroughly clean utensils, cutting boards, counters and any other surfaces that may have come into contact with raw turkey.
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