Salmonella outbreak linked to raw turkey leaves over 200 sick across U.S.

(Reuters) - More than 200 people from across the United States have fallen ill, 84 of them hospitalized, from an ongoing salmonella outbreak linked to raw turkey products that prompted a second voluntary recall on Friday, the U.S. government said.

The latest food-safety advisory from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta came as millions of Americans planned their Christmas holiday menus, updating a notice for contaminated turkey issued in early November.

Since then, 52 more people in 26 states and the District of Columbia have become sick from salmonella-tainted turkey, bringing the total number of documented cases to 216 in 38 states and the district. One death from the outbreak, which began in October, was reported in California, the CDC said.

The Public Health Agency of Canada has reported an additional 22 turkey-related salmonella infections in four provinces - British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba and New Brunswick - believed to be linked to the U.S. outbreak.

The common strain of salmonella associated with the illnesses has been identified in various raw turkey products, including ground turkey, turkey patties, live turkeys and raw turkey pet food, indicating it may be widespread in the turkey industry.

No single supplier has been identified.

9 Foods You Should Never Eat Raw
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9 Foods You Should Never Eat Raw

So read on to learn about nine foods that you shouldn’t eat raw, and why.


Between the processing plant and the supermarket, raw chicken can pick up lots and lots of nasty little bugs that can send you to the hospital if eaten, so you should make sure that all chicken is cooked to at least 165 degrees. And there’s no need to rinse off chicken before you cook it: the bacteria will be killed during cooking, and the splashing water could infect your whole kitchen.

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Chaya is a "superfood" found in the Yucatan that was a favorite of the Mayans but hasn’t really caught on in the United States (yet). It’s similar to spinach, only it’s much stronger-tasting and only very small quantities of it can be eaten raw. Why? The leaves contain cyanide, which is obviously a deadly poison in large quantities. Boiling the leaves for five minutes neutralizes the toxin.

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Just like Chaya, yucca (or cassava root) also contains cyanide, or cyanogenic glycosides to be exact. High levels of the toxin are found in its leaves, which prevents it from being eaten by insects and animals, but some also makes its way into the edible root as well. In order to make this starchy tuber edible, it must be dried, soaked in water, rinsed, and cooked as soon as possible after harvest.

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Sure, Rocky might down raw eggs on a daily basis, but that doesn’t mean it’s smart. While they’re loaded with protein, raw eggs also have the possibility of containing salmonella, which infects about one out of every 30,000 eggs. And because it’s in the yolk, those who are concerned should never eat their yolks runny either.

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Pits/Seeds of Apples, Mangos, Peaches, Pears, and Apricots

These you really shouldn’t eat at all; forget about cooking them first. If you crack open seeds and pits from fruits that contain them, the inside is soft and appears to be edible. But don’t eat it: it contains a chemical called amygdalin that can turn into — you guessed it — cyanide (who knew that so many foods contained cyanide?). Thankfully, you’d need to eat a whole lot of peach pits in order to get sick, but we wouldn’t chance it.

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Green Potatoes

You know how sometimes older potatoes can begin to turn a funky shade of green? Yeah, you don’t want to eat that part. When potatoes get too much sunlight, a chemical called solanine can build up to toxic levels, and that’s what the green is. If consumed, it can lead to headache, fatigue, nausea, and stomach issues. Store your potatoes in a cool, dry place and you’ll avoid this problem.

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Pork no longer needs to be cooked to well-done, but you should still cook it past the medium point. Pork still has the potential to carry a couple of bugs: trichinosis, a roundworm; and pork tapeworm, which can grow up to 6 feet long in the gut of a pig. If the meat is eaten undercooked, it can transmit the parasite to you, with some unpleasant side effects. These diseases largely hail from the days when pigs were allowed to eat garbage, and have largely been eradicated by modern processing. It’s still risky, though, and rare pork doesn’t taste very good, either.

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Raw Red Kidney Beans

If you were to take a few raw kidney beans off the vine and eat them, not only would they taste gross, but within a couple hours you’d be nauseous, vomiting, and have an upset stomach. The culprit? A natural toxin called lectin. Soak the beans in water for at least five hours before cooking and you’ll be fine.

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Rhubarb Leaves

You might have heard that rhubarb is poisonous when raw, but it’s actually the leaves you should avoid at all costs. The leaves contain insanely high levels of a toxin called oxalic acid, which when consumed can cause serious kidney damage, and possibly even death. Even a small amount can make you sick, and 10 or so pounds is enough to kill you.

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Minnesota-based Jennie-O Turkey Store Sales LLC on Friday voluntarily recalled more than 164,000 pounds of ground turkey products. The company had recalled more than 91,000 pounds in mid-November over the same outbreak.

With the exception of the recalled Jennie-O brand ground turkey, the CDC said it was not advising consumers to avoid eating properly cooked turkey products or for retailers to stop selling raw turkey products.

Anyone can become sick from salmonella bacteria, but young children, the elderly or people with weakened immune systems are at a higher risk of serious illness.

Symptoms, which typically appear 12 to 72 hours after ingesting the bacteria, include diarrhea, fever and stomach cramps. Most people recover within a week.

Infection can best be prevented by thorough washing hands after handling poultry, by cooking turkey to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit, and by thawing frozen turkeys in the refrigerator rather than at room temperature, the CDC said.

(Reporting by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; Editing by Joseph Radford)

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