Drug-Resistant Salmonella in Ground Turkey


I have it on good authority (theirs) that we can trust Big Ag to deliver the safest food on the planet. In fact, certain politicians are so convinced of it they do things like cut funding to food safety regulators.

Having been on both sides of the producer fence — as a small-scale farmer and as an urban patron of farmers’ markets — I can honestly say neither I nor any of my former customers was ever poisoned by anything I sold or bought.

The big guys cannot make that claim. When they sell something tainted, they spread it widely and quickly. Cargill’s salmonella-infected ground turkey is just the latest example.

36 million pounds of ground turkey recalled

The meat came from Cargill’s Springdale, Arkansas, plant. The company is recalling 36 million pounds of ground turkey, in one of the largest such actions on record. According to ABC News, the “last time Cargill’s Springdale plant was tested was in 2010 — when three instances of Salmonella Heidelberg were found after a series of tests.”

The outbreak (here’s a CDC map of its distribution) is evidence that what the health community has feared so long has happened. After pumping livestock full of antibiotics for years to try to control the inevitable disease vectors that are a by-product of factory farming, overuse of antibiotics has led to Salmonella Heidelberg, an antibiotic-resistant strain of a deadly disease.

Photo from aMichiganMom via Flickr Creative Commons

At this point, 78 people in 26 states have been infected. Compared with previous outbreaks, a larger number of those sickened by the salmonella have required hospitalization. One person in California has died.

Statements question government oversight

After what she termed a “confusing timeline” presented by the Centers for Disease Control and the USDA’s Food and Safety Inspection Service, Caroline Smith DeWall (Center for Science in the Public Interest Food Safety Director) issued a statement calling for a review of the government’s handling of the outbreak.

Wenonah Hauter, the Executive Director of Food & Water Watch also issued a statement. It read in part: “Until the overuse of antibiotics in livestock production stops, consumers will be faced with the additional threat of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.”

This Associated Press video coverage gives the two simplest tips for avoiding infection: cook meat to 165 degrees, and wash hands with soap for at least 20 seconds, before and after handling it.

Related Care2 Stories

U.S. House Debates Food Safety Funding Cuts

80 Percent of Antibiotics in the U.S. Go to Farm Animals

E. Coli Scare Prompts Beef Recall

Photo from USDA Agricultural Research Service (depicts probiotic testing, not antibiotics)


Darren McCauley
Darren McCauley5 years ago

When the "Rich" fully understand that without the poor "They" would not be rich, humanity can slow down and we can learn to work together to fix these massive amounts of problems........

Vera van Diepen
Vera Diepen5 years ago

See the documentary Forks Over Knives (www.forksoverknives.org) and ask yourself why you eat your brother and sister in the first place.

Charlie Parkinson

This brings to mind an interesting discussion I had with my mother only this morning......get rid of the antibiotics in the meat, and the price will go up, farmers will have to take better care of their "products" or they won't get accepted because they will undoubtedly make people ill, slaughterhouses would be forced to cut their stream-line slaughtering practices and keep their areas and equipment clean, chill-tanks would have to continually be refilled and washed out, or better yet, banned because of the long-ago proven ability it has of increasing the cross-contamination rate, people would eat less meat because of the increase in price, which would bring down the number of animals being raised for slaughter, which would bring down the nitrogen run-off from all the nitrogen packed waste that is produced on a daily basis, as well as the methane gas, which as a global-warming enthusiasts realize, is I believe several times worse than the whopping amounts of CO2 produced by cars and gimmicks.

Abbe A.
Azaima A.5 years ago


K s Goh
KS Goh5 years ago

Thanks for the article.

Asiatic Lion
Asiatic Lion5 years ago

when we have poisoned the ground - it will be in the vegetables and meat...so what are we so shocked about?

Joy Looney
Joy Looney5 years ago

I don't think it matters if you cut the funding or not, it is still going to happen time and time again as long as there is factory farming. So don't eat meat, or if you do raise and butcher your own. That's what we are doing and getting from local trusted sources, NOT big ag. Might as well do it with everything you eat, grow your own. Nothing is safe anymore.

Mrs Shakespeare
Mrs Shakespeare5 years ago

I think Dakota is absolutely right.
As Muslims, Mohammed had told over 1400 years ago that treating animals badly makes their meat 'unclean' and 'unhealthy' for consumption, and experts and scientists have even proved that, so in addition to blaming drugs and hormones and whatever, maybe you should also blame those farmers for the way they treat their poor animals.

Alice G.
Alice G.5 years ago

Well I think the people who are yelling for vegetarianism go nowhere. The meat eaters will have to pay their price, and only then maybe they will understand that the risk is much greater than the pleasure to eat meat each and every single day. Unfortunately I have 3 family members who eat meat, and I cannot do anything to change that, so I guess there will be nothing that can be done, and sooner or later, meat eaters will start getting sick and dying.

Cheryl B.
Cheryl B.5 years ago

thanks for telling the world