As Turkey salmonella outbreak sickens 164, CDC warns about Thanksgiving thawing

A widespread outbreak of salmonella traced to raw turkey has killed one person and sickened 164 others in dozens of states, including New Jersey, federal health officials said Thursday.

Eight people have been sickened in the Garden State since the outbreak began a year ago, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The only death was reported in California.

Officials said they have not identified any specific contaminated turkey products and no recalls were issued.

“The outbreak strain has been identified in samples taken from raw turkey pet food, raw turkey products, and live turkeys,” the CDC said.

Ill people said they ate turkey from various sources and different products, according to health officials.

“The outbreak strain of Salmonella Reading is present in live turkeys and in many types of raw turkey products, indicating it might be widespread in the turkey industry,” the health agency said.

Meanwhile, officials said the outbreak was growing and noted there could be lag time in new cases being reported to health departments.

“We are still seeing new illnesses being reported on a weekly basis,” CDC epidemiologist Colin Basler told  .

In all, people have fallen ill in 35 states and 63 people were hospitalized. The CDC said thoroughly cooking turkey will destroy food-borne illnesses and the agency has not suggested that people avoid the food.

The National Turkey Federation, an industry group, said it was cooperating with officials and taking steps to address the outbreak.

“Our members have individually reviewed their Salmonella control programs in all phases of turkey production and are working collectively through NTF to address this and all strains of Salmonella,” the group said in a statement. “The intense focus of our membership on this issue has allowed the industry to further strengthen guidelines for biosecurity and food safety.”

The CDC posted more details about the outbreak and offered food safety tips on its website.

contributed to this report

Noah Cohen may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @noahyc. Find on Facebook.