Cargill Turkey Recall Highlights US Regulatory Problems

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By Admin on August 16, 2011 6:47 AM

The recent Cargill turkey recall over salmonella is surprising not only because of the number of people it has sickened, but also because the government knew about salmonella problems at the plant.

The plant in question, located in Arkansas, has now been linked to the salmonella infections. The recall encompassed around 36 million pounds of ground turkey that was processed in Cargill's Arkansas facility, according to Twin-Cities Business.

The recall was issued this month.

Evidence of contamination in Cargill's ground turkey was found in early March.

But, no recall was issued. This is because according to the regulations set down by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, recalls cannot be issued unless the illness has been linked to the meat, according to Health News.

So, while evidence of salmonella contamination was found in March, nothing could be done. And, it took months for the salmonella to be linked to the ground turkey.

The delay in response to the salmonella outbreak is also surprising considering that a government monitoring system also had evidence of an outbreak. This information was not shared until the recall was issued, according to NPR.

The reason behind the seemingly haphazard response may be the fact that there are dozens of different agencies that oversee food recalls, NPR reports.

And, coordination between these agencies can be difficult. Plus, many federal, state and local health agencies face budget cuts. Ultimately, the less money that go into these state agencies, the less ability they will have to investigate food safety issues.

Even if food recall regulations are changed, with limited funds, it's possible that food recalls will still suffer lengthy delays. This trend could be dangerous, considering the Cargill turkey recall sickened around 107 people nationwide, NPR reports.

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