Grocery retailers in the Pine-Richland community and around Western Pennsylvania are among those pulling Cargill ground turkey products from their shelves and reaching out to customers to prevent more outbreaks of illnesses linked to salmonella.
Cargill Value Added Meats Retail, a division of Cargill Meats Solutions Corp., on Wednesday voluntarily recalled approximately 36 million pounds of fresh and frozen ground turkey produced at the company’s Springdale, AR, facility between Feb. 20 and Tuesday, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service.
The packaged turkey produced by the Wayzata, MN-based meat company has been linked to a salmonella outbreak in 26 states that has been blamed for at least 76 illnesses and one death.
Most of the illnesses have been reported in Michigan and Ohio, but at least five people are believed to have been sickened in Pennsylvania -- four of them in Allegheny County, authorities said.
The recall covers ground turkey sold under the Honeysuckle, Riverside, Natural Lean and numerous other labels and bears the notation "P-963" inside the USDA inspection marking, the agency said. Customers who have purchased these products may return them to stores where they purchased the items.
In response to the announcement, Giant Eagle stores immediately took steps to protect and notify customers, according to a spokesman for the O'Hara-based retailer.
Giant Eagle has a process in place to react to any recall of potentially tainted food, spokesman Dick Roberts said.
Giant Eagle has stores in , and in
“We immediately remove the product from the shelves and implement a register sale block to ensure none of the product would inadvertently be sold,” he said.
Signs have been placed in stores to alert customers of the recall, Roberts said. Giant Eagle also is reaching out to customers whose shoppers-loyalty card transactions show they've previously purchased the Cargill products, he said.
“These customers will receive a pre-recorded telephone call telling them the refund process,” he said.
Giant Eagle customers with concerns about potentially affected products may call its customer care center at 1-800-553-2324 for information and assistance.
The tainted products may be returned to Giant Eagle for a full refund, according to its website.
Shop 'n Save meat products come from SUPERVALU, a wholesale supplier that serves more than 2,500 stores nationally. Spokesman Mike Siemienas said the grocery stores have removed all of the recalled products from their stores and have taken several steps to inform customers of the situation.
Richland Township has a store in Richland Mall.
“We pull the product out of our supply chain immediately as well,” he said. Shop 'n Save educates its store sales associates and reaches out to local media to alert customers who may have already bought the tainted product, he said.
Shop 'n Save stores in Western Pennsylvania are independently owned, and Siemienas said he didn't know if store owners were contacting their customers with store loyalty cards. Officials at local stores declined comment, referring questions to Siemienas.
A spokesman for Kuhn's Markets was unavailable for comment today.
Although Pennsylvania is among the states where illnesses have been linked to the Cargill turkey, local consumers should keep the recall in perspective, said Dave Zazac, a spokesman for the Allegheny County Health Department.
“We have only had five cases of salmonella since April from this product, four in Allegheny County,” he said. “Just to keep it in perspective, we have had 67 cases of salmonella [in the county] in that time frame, and only four are from this [outbreak].”
The best method to prevent illness caused from ground turkey -- or any poultry -- is to cook it to 165 degrees Fahrenheit, easily measured by a meat thermometer.
“Ground meat by its very nature will have salmonella. Industry standard is up to 10 percent, so it is very important to make sure meat and poultry is properly cooked,” he said.
Signs of food poisoning caused by salmonella include abdominal pain and cramps, fever and diarrhea. It may take up to three days after ingesting tainted food for someone to become ill, and the symptoms can last up to a week, according to Zazac.
“You should start to feel better in four days or so,” he said.
Elderly people, very young children and those with compromised immune systems may be more susceptible to the bacteria, said Zazac.
Zazac urged anyone concerned about symptoms of salmonella to contact their physicians.
Customers with questions about recalled ground turkey products may contact Cargill’s consumer relations toll-free telephone number at 1-888-812-1646.
For a complete list of products included in the recall, see the USDA website.
Giant Eagle also released this list of potentially tainted products that may have been sold locally by the grocer:
Self-Service Case Items Service Meat Case Honeysuckle ground turkey 3-pound value pack Ground turkey Honeysuckle fresh ground turkey breast Fresh ground turkey breast Honeysuckle 99 percent lean ground turkey breast Taco-seasoned ground turkey Honeysuckle white ground turkey patties Italian-seasoned ground turkey Giant Eagle 99 percent and 93 percent lean ground turkey Garden vegetable turkey burger Jalapeno turkey burger Italian turkey burger