Nearly 80 victims from 26 states have been infected, and one person has died. People infected with Salmonella poisoning can suffer symptoms ranging from upset stomach and diarrhea to other flu-like symptoms including fever and severe illness.
According to Newswise:
“This recall affects more than 25 different types of fresh and frozen ground turkey products produced at Cargill Inc.’s Springdale, Arkansas plant between Feb. 20 and Aug. 2. All packages contain the code ‘Est. P-963,’ according to Cargill.”
As the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reports:
“According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 800 people in the United States have gotten sick from drinking raw milk or eating cheese made from raw milk since 1998.”
That’s 800 people over the last 13 years, or just over 61 people a year. In response to this “public health threat,” as they call it, the FDA has launched an all-out war -- planting spies, conducting armed raids and violently clamping down on "illegal interstate commerce" of raw milk by raw milk farmers and private buying clubs. They are, quite simply, doing everything in their power to stop American citizens from having access to this health-promoting food.
But here is a shocking statistic, thousands of times more people suffer from food infections caused by other foods than raw dairy, and you never see any FDA raids on these companies.
Specifically, over 100,000 people are hospitalized from food-borne illnesses each year in the United States, and 3,000 die. By far, the primary cause of these illnesses is poultry tainted with bacteria like Campylobacter and Salmonella. It seems obvious that the FDA needs to take a hard look at their priorities and start paying attention to the real health threats in the food supply, such as conventionally raised poultry, and leave raw milk producers alone.
Contaminated Ground Turkey Triggers One of the Largest U.S. Meat Recalls
As of August 11 of this year, 107 people spanning 31 states have been sickened, and one has died, by eating Salmonella-contaminated ground turkey made by Cargill Inc. Experts say the actual number of people infected is probably much higher, as not everyone seeks treatment for Salmonella infection. The turkey is infected with the strain called Salmonella Heidelberg, which is resistant to many commonly prescribed antibiotics.
As a result, Cargill issued a recall for 36 million pounds of ground turkey in early August, months after the first illnesses began to appear in March. Investigators are still working to determine the actual source of contamination, but, truth be told, conventional poultry farming and production methods are a ticking time-bomb when it comes to food-borne illness.
A report from the University of Florida's Emerging Pathogens Institute reported that poultry was found to cause more food-borne disease than any other food, amounting to $2.4 billion in costs of illness. The primary bacteria to blame were Campylobacter, followed by Salmonella.
The report also found that Salmonella has the greatest health burden as measured by both cost of illness and QALY (quality-adjusted life year) loss, but the illnesses were spread out over a variety of food products. In short, the data showed you're most likely to be sickened by Salmonella when eating:
- Contaminated produce (particularly tomatoes, sprouts and cantaloupe)
You simply cannot count on government regulations to keep you safe, either, as it may surprise you to learn that even if nearly half of ground turkey samples tested by USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) test positive for Salmonella, and that is perfectly ok!
As reported by Food Safety News:
“Currently, CU [Consumer’s Union] says, the FSIS standard for Salmonella allows almost half of the samples tested at ground turkey processors to be contaminated with the pathogen.
"The current USDA ground turkey standard, which allows 49.9 percent of samples in a test run to be positive for Salmonella, is unacceptable and clearly ineffective as a tool for food safety," said Jean Halloran, director of Food Policy Initiatives at Consumers Union.”
Poultry from Your Supermarket Probably Contains Salmonella
If you still buy your meat at your local supermarket, you should know that you are most often directly supporting a factory farm food system that promotes widespread contamination. And you can bet that as long as there are people willing to buy cheap, contaminated meat, the industry will continue to produce it.
Consumer Reports tests indicated that 83 percent of fresh, whole broiler chickens bought at supermarkets nationwide harbor campylobacter or salmonella. Turkey likely has similar contamination rates, and it seems reasonable that contamination would occur via similar routes in chicken and turkey as well.
One study by the British government found salmonella contamination occurred most often at farms that contained the most birds, typically 30,000 or more. These large farming operations had flocks that contained over four times the average levels of salmonella compared to the smaller flock sizes allowed under British organic standards.
What are the Biggest Food Recalls to Date?
Cargill’s ground turkey recall is a “class 1” recall -- the most serious, which according to the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service means it “involves a health hazard situation in which there is a reasonable probability that eating the food will cause health problems or death.”
Food Safety News recently compiled a list of the top Class 1 food recalls in recent years, and notes that the new turkey recall will actually take the number one spot. Others, as you’ll see, once again involve meats that are the product of CAFOs:
- 2000: Bil Mar Foods, owned by Sara Lee, recalled 35 million pounds of hot dogs and deli meats for possible contamination with Listeria.
- 2002: Pilgrim’s Pride Corporation, doing business as Wampler Foods Inc., recalled 27.4 million pounds of turkey and chicken products that may have been contaminated with Listeria.
- 1997: Hudson Foods Company recalled 25 million pounds of frozen ground beef patties because of possible contamination with E. coli O157:H7.
- 2007: Topps Meat Company recalled 21.7 million pounds of frozen ground beef products because of possible contamination with E. coli O157:H7.
- 2002: ConAgra Beef Company recalled 19 million pounds of beef trim and fresh and frozen ground beef products that may have been contaminated with E. coli O157:H7.
Do you see a pattern?
The largest, and most severe, food recalls to date overwhelmingly involve meat products that are raised on industrial factory-farms under crowded, filthy conditions. Clearly, the USDA and the FDA are not doing their job to protect Americans from the most important food threats out there; instead they are wasting precious time and resources to mount an unconstitutional assault against raw milk, which is far safer than the majority of CAFO meat. The University of Florida report even found that "consumption of FDA-regulated foods is estimated to cause about half of the overall national burden of foodborne disease"!
Why is Raw Milk Being Targeted?
Unfortunately, while the U.S. government is allowing corporate factory farms to continue to produce contaminated beef and poultry, the FDA is trying to shut down your right to choose to drink raw milk.
This is ludicrous, as raw milk is a natural food that has been consumed for thousands of years and has proven health benefits. Considering the fact that we've seen more and more outbreaks of the rare virulent forms of E. coli, Salmonella and other pathogens being traced back to fresh produce and meat, I see no reason why, using the FDA’s logic, the Agency is not on a quest to make fresh vegetables and ground turkey illegal.
What is really going on, as Pete Kennedy, president of the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund (FTCLDF, a not for profit organization founded to protect the right of farmers and consumers to engage in direct commerce), recently stated, “is an economic regulation disguised as a health regulation."
For those who cannot understand what this has to do with economics, you must understand that CAFOs simply cannot compete with grass-fed raw milk farms, and therefore stand to lose a lot of money as raw milk becomes increasingly popular.
They cannot compete because in order for milk to be safely consumed raw, it should come from cows fed a forage-based diet that includes pasture. CAFO-derived milk should not be consumed raw given the elevated risk of hazardous pathogens in the milk—an inevitable side effect of feeding cows grain instead of the grasses they were designed to eat.
The reason why they're trying to shut down raw milk farmers is because so many people consume raw milk and raw milk dairy products, and the numbers are growing every year. One 2008 survey conducted by the CDC found there were over nine million raw milk drinkers in the US, and today, the number of raw milk consumers is estimated to be in the neighborhood of 12 million to 13 million. When you consider that each family can consume a few gallons of milk per week, it all starts adding up, and Big Dairy is losing business.
Further, with that many millions of raw milk consumers, it's quite clear that grass-fed raw milk is extremely safe, because there are so few food-borne illness outbreaks attributable to it. Unfortunately, the USDA and the FDA have launched a war against the wrong party -- the small farmers selling high-quality raw milk and not the CAFO corporate giants selling their tainted meats as “safe.”
If You Want to Lower Your Risk of Food Poisoning…
The real solution to creating healthier, safer foods lies in cleaning up the growing conditions and processing plants, and most certainly in returning farming to a small-scale basis.
Public health agency precautions about carefully cleaning surfaces that meat touches and carefully cooking it to avoid illness are well placed – but only skim the surface of the real problem. Your meat should not have the high contamination rates that are common in CAFO meats; locally grown meat raised in a healthy way have nowhere near these infection rates.
Healthy, humanely raised meat is out there, and you can find it by purchasing your meat and poultry directly from a trusted farmer whose farming practices you're familiar with. Supporting local farmers and ranchers can go a long way toward improving the entire food system, and more importantly, your personal health.
I realize that not everyone has access to small farmers, but food from local sources is increasing in popularity and is becoming much easier to come by.
There are a number of grass-fed beef ranchers and small poultry farmers in the United States that offer safe, high-quality meats. For an excellent list of sustainable agricultural groups in your area, please see Promoting Sustainable Agriculture -- this page is filled with resources for high-quality produce and meats in your area.
Aside from purchasing only high-quality meat in the first place, which will lower your risk of coming into contact with pathogenic bacteria, a strong immune system is your best defense. You can boost your immune system through daily lifestyle choices that support your overall health, such as:
Avoiding sugar -- especially fructose -- grains, and processed food, and eating plenty of organic raw foods Incorporating plenty of regular exercise each week Finding a way to diffuse the stress life throws at you (my favorite tool is EFT) Getting plenty of deep, restorative sleep Optimizing your vitamin D through sun exposure, safe tanning bed or supplementation, if needed Taking a high-quality probiotic, which will help populate your gastrointestinal tract with GOOD bacteria—your best defense against bad bacteria like Campylobacter and Salmonella
What to Do if You Get Salmonella
Most cases of Salmonella and other food-borne illness can be treated at home, using a few time-tested all natural strategies. First and foremost, you need to make sure you're staying properly hydrated, so drink plenty of clear liquids, such as pure water and broth. You may also need to take some form of oral electrolyte, found in most pharmacies.
Most important, however, make sure you take a high-quality probiotic. When treating acute infectious diarrhea, large therapeutic doses are required. If you have a high-quality probiotic with over 50 billion CFUs per dose you could take four initially and then three to four more times that day on an empty stomach. Once your illness resolves you should continue higher doses of four twice a day for a few more days to help recolonize your gut.
Activated charcoal (which is typically used to treat accidental poisoning with toxic chemicals) may also be an effective remedy in cases of food poisoning. It is non-toxic and can be purchased in most drug- and grocery stores.
Naturally, if your case is severe, you should seek medical treatment, as severe food poisoning can be fatal. If your stools turn black or have a tar-like consistency, it's a sign you're severely dehydrated and may need IV fluids. In cases of severe illness, you may also need to be treated with antibiotics. However, some food-borne bacteria have become resistant to many commonly used antibiotics.
Typically, with rest, plenty of fluids and high-quality probiotics, you should be back on your feet in no time.