Tyson Foods has announced a recall of nearly 34,000 pounds of chicken on fears of salmonella contamination.
The United State Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service was notified of a Salmonella Heidelberg cluster of illnesses on December 12, 2013. Together with the Tennessee Department of Health, the FSIS discovered a link between mechanically separated chicken products from Tyson Foods, and an outbreak of illness in a Tennessee correctional facility. Seven people were sickened, and of those cases, two were hospitalized.
Consumers with questions about the recall should contact Tyson Foods’ consumer relations department at 866-886-8456. More information is available on Tyson's website.
About 48 million people contract some form of food poisoning each year, according to the CDC, and salmonella is the leading cause of foodborne illness. Salmonella causes an estimated 1.3 million illnesses each year in the United States. In December, the FSIS announced that it hopes to tackle that toll with the help of a new "Salmonella Action Plan."
The ten-point strategy outlines the steps the agency will take to address issues in meat and poultry production, which it considers "the most pressing problem it faces."
Foodborne illness prevention
The United States Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) provides these recommendations for preventing Salmonellosis
- The only way to be sure the meat or poultry is cooked to a high enough temperature to kill harmful bacteria is to use a thermometer to measure the internal temperature. For ground meat, the temperature is 160°F and for non-ground poultry 165°F.
- Wash hands with warm soapy water for 20 seconds before and after handling food and after using the bathroom, changing diapers, and handling pets.
- Wash utensils, cutting boards, dishes, and countertops with hot soapy water after preparing each food item and before you go on to the next item.
- Consider using paper towels to clean kitchen surfaces. If you use cloth towels, wash them often in the hot cycle of your washing machine.
Fast facts on salmonella
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that people in a normal state of health who ingest Salmonella-tainted food may experience diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps, which typically begin within 12 to 72 hours. This may be accompanied by vomiting, chills, headache and muscle pains. These symptoms may last about four to seven days, and then go away without specific treatment, but left unchecked, Salmonella infection may spread to the bloodstream and beyond and may cause death if the person is not treated promptly with antibiotics.
Children, the elderly, and people with compromised immune symptoms should practice extreme caution, as salmonellosis may lead to severe illness or even death.