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36 Million Pounds of Ground Turkey Recalled

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has recalled 36 million pounds of ground turkey in the wake of a multi-state outbreak of antibiotic-resistant Salmonella linked to the death of a California man, the Chicago Tribune reports.

Seventy-seven people in 26 states reported becoming ill after consuming Cargill brand ground turkey between March 1 and August 1, with Michigan, Ohio, Texas, Illinois, California and Pennsylvania having the most cases, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

All of the packages recalled include the code "Est. P-963" on the label. The packages were labeled with many different brands, including Cargill's Honeysuckle White. A full list of recalled products is posted on Cargill's website.

Cargill's plant in Springdale, Arkansas, processed the suspect fresh and frozen ground turkey products between February 20 and August 2, the company said in a news release. The company said it has suspended production of ground turkey products at the processing facility until it can determine the source of the bacteria strain.

A California Department of Public Health spokesman said that the death was one of two cases of the illness reported in Sacramento County. Los Angeles, San Francisco, Riverside and San Diego counties have each reported one case of the Salmonella strain. The Salmonella Heidelberg strain behind the outbreak is resistant to many commonly prescribed antibiotics, which can raise the risk of hospitalization or treatment failure in infected individuals, the CDC said.

In 2000, Cargill recalled turkey and chicken deli products sold in 10 states due to listeria contamination.

Most people infected with Salmonella bacteria develop diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps 12 to 72 hours after exposure. Illness usually lasts four days to one week and most people recover without treatment.

In some cases, individuals develop severe diarrhea that requires hospitalization. The infection may also spread to the bloodstream and on to other parts of the body and can cause death. Older adults, infants, and those with impaired immune systems are more likely to experience a severe illness from Salmonella infection.

The CDC estimates that one in six people in the United States gets sick from eating contaminated food each year. Foodborne illness is blamed for about 3,000 deaths annually.

Consumers may return any opened or unopened packages of ground turkey items listed on Cargill's website to stores where they were purchased for a refund.

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