According to Medical Daily, the CDC reported the first death in a salmonella outbreak linked to turkey products. So far, the outbreak has affected 164 people across 35 U.S. states and is expected to grow.
The CDC says the outbreak is likely widespread in the turkey industry, as the strain has been found in ground turkey, turkey patties, raw turkey pet food, and live turkeys. The outbreak began last November but tests have not identified a common source supplier.
Typical symptoms of this strain include nausea, diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps. In some cases, there is a risk of severe illness, which can lead to long-term complications or even death.
Salmonella outbreaks in the meat and egg industries are incredibly common. Earlier this year, the Miami Herald announced that a massive salmonella outbreak had prompted the recall of 206 million eggs from nine different brands in nine states! What’s more, CNN reported that an additional 92 people from 29 states had been infected by drug-resistant salmonella found in a variety of chicken products.
From salmonella to E. coli, dangerous pathogens lurk in nearly all meat. In fact, around 25 percent of cut-up chicken meat and about 50 percent of ground chicken sold in stores is contaminated with salmonella.
But salmonella isn’t just found in turkey and chicken. According to the FDA, seafood imports from China—around 27 percent of the seafood consumed by Americans—are frequently contaminated. Additionally, salmonella cases involving pork and beef are on the rise. In fact, overall salmonella infection rates have risen 44 percent in just the past decade.
In addition to salmonella and E. coli, many other harmful bacteria and viruses are often found in meat, including vibrio, listeria, shigella, and campylobacter. A recent analysis found that nearly 60 percent of U.K.-produced chickens tested positive for campylobacter.
Experts believe the source of this latest turkey salmonella outbreak is fecal contamination, a common means of transmission. In fact, a Dutch report from RTL Nieuws recently shared that fecal contamination in meat and on slaughterhouse equipment had doubled over the course of a year.
But why is meat contaminated with fecal matter? Because factory farms are filthy and crowded with animals who are often sick, unable to move, and covered in waste.
The CDC recommends caution with products that may be contaminated with salmonella, but one surefire way to prevent infection is to avoid turkey and other animal products altogether.
By leaving turkey products off your plate, you not only protect yourself from health risks like salmonella but help protect animals from abuse. Every year over 45 million turkeys are killed for Americans to eat at Thanksgiving. And like most animals raised and killed for food, turkeys are put through hell at factory farms from the moment they’re born until they’re violently killed.
These animals never get to know the love of their mothers or feel the sunlight on their backs or the grass beneath their feet. Instead, they are subjected to mutilations without painkillers and crammed by the thousands into dark, windowless sheds.
For maximum profit, turkeys are bred to grow so quickly they often become immobilized under their own weight. In fact, the natural life span of a turkey is 10 years, but through special breeding, turkeys reach “market size” in just several weeks. Many suffer debilitating leg and joint pain, heart attacks, and organ failure. Because of their immobility, many birds have to sit in their own waste, which causes painful sores and infections.
When they reach the desired weight, they are rounded up, crammed onto trucks, and shipped to slaughter. The trip can take days. Given no food or water and exposed to all weather conditions, many turkeys die before reaching the slaughterhouse.
Once the turkeys arrive, they are shackled upside down by their feet and have their throats cut open. Some birds are improperly shackled and miss the kill blade, and many are scalded alive in the defeathering tanks.
Mercy For Animals has conducted over half a dozen undercover investigations of turkey factory farms in the U.S. and Canada. Each time, we have documented horrific abuse.
Turkeys are just as sensitive and intelligent as the dogs and cats we adore at home. This senseless and horrifying abuse flies in the face of everything Thanksgiving is about: gratitude.
Fortunately, you can protect your family, yourself, and animals by choosing to leave turkey off your Thanksgiving dinner menu. Check out our list of vegan Thanksgiving recipes.