November 19, 2018

With Thanksgiving Around The Corner, Senators Gillibrand And Blumenthal Call On The USDA To Disclose Information Regarding Deadly Strain Of Salmonella Linked To Raw Turkey

164 People from 35 States, Including Twelve People in New York and Three in Connecticut, Have Been Infected with this Strain of Salmonella; Gillibrand, Blumenthal: USDA’s Failure to Provide Identifying Information for Contaminated Turkey to the Public in Advance of the Holiday Season is Simply Unconscionable

Washington, DC – With Thanksgiving around the corner, U.S. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) today called on the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to provide the public with critical information regarding a deadly strain of multidrug-resistant Salmonella linked to raw turkey products. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently reported that 164 people from 35 states, including twelve people in New York and three in Connecticut, have been infected with a strain of Salmonella Reading linked to a variety of raw turkey products. Gillibrand and Blumenthal wrote to USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue to urge the USDA to release potentially life-saving information ahead of the holidays.

“USDA’s failure to provide identifying information for contaminated turkey to the public in advance of the holiday season is simply unconscionable. As such, we demand that you reverse course and immediately disclose the names of the slaughter facilities and processing plants—and, if possible, the consumer-level brand names—linked to this dangerous outbreak, so that Americans across the country can come together without worrying for the safety of their friends, family, and loved ones,” Gillibrand and Blumenthal wrote in the letter to Secretary Perdue.

“Every moment that USDA neglects its responsibility to ensure that the turkey eaten across the country is safe, the health of Americans is jeopardized,” the senators continued.

While consumers should always take safety precautions when handling and cooking poultry and meat, Americans rely on federal agencies, such as USDA, to keep their families safe from potentially life threatening food safety threats. Children below the age of five, adults above the age of 65, and those with weak immune systems are at most risk of developing serious illness after Salmonella exposure – which can lead to hospitalization or death.

The full text of the Senators’ letter can be found here and below:

November 19, 2018

The Honorable Sonny Perdue

United States Secretary of Agriculture

1400 Independence Avenue, Southwest

Washington, D.C.  20250

Dear Secretary Perdue:

We are deeply troubled that the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is refusing to provide the public with critical information regarding a deadly strain of multidrug-resistant Salmonella linked to raw turkey products. USDA’s failure to provide identifying information for contaminated turkey to the public in advance of the holiday season is simply unconscionable. As such, we demand that you reverse course and immediately disclose the names of the slaughter facilities and processing plants—and, if possible, the consumer-level brand names—linked to this dangerous outbreak, so that Americans across the country can come together without worrying for the safety of their friends, family, and loved ones.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently reported that 164 people from 35 states, including three people in Connecticut and twelve in New York, have been infected with a strain of Salmonella Reading linked to a variety of raw turkey products[1]. This has resulted in 63 hospitalizations and one known death, since the first case became known in November, 2017[2]. Disturbingly, CDC tests have shown that certain bacteria samples from sick patients are resistant to antibiotics[3].

According to CDC, children below the age of five, adults above the age of 65, and those with weakened immune systems are most at risk of developing serious illness after Salmonella exposure, which could result in hospitalization or even death[4]. While consumers should always take safety precautions when handling and cooking poultry and meat, Americans rely on federal agencies, such as USDA, to keep their families safe from potentially life threatening food safety threats such as this one.

CDC and USDA maintain that they have not identified a source, single common supplier, or specific product for recall. However, sampling of raw turkey products conducted by the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service identified this outbreak strain at 22 slaughter and 7 processing establishments[5].

We urge USDA to disclose this potentially life-saving information to the public before any more individuals are infected by this outbreak. Every moment that USDA neglects its responsibility to ensure that the turkey eaten across the country is safe, the health of Americans is jeopardized. We look forward to your timely response outlining the steps USDA will take to prioritize public health and American lives during this holiday season.

Sincerely,