WICHITA, KAS. — In the middle of a growing outbreak of food-borne illness, Cargill Value Added Meats Retail, a business unit of Cargill Meat Solutions Corp., has issues a voluntary recall of about 36 million lbs of fresh and frozen ground turkey due to possible contamination from Salmonella Heidelberg.

The products in question were produced in Springdale, Ark., between Feb. 20 and Aug. 2.

“While facts continue to be gathered and currently there is no conclusive answer regarding the source of Salmonella Heidelberg contamination, given our concern for what has happened and our desire to do what is right for our consumers and customers we are voluntarily removing our ground turkey products from the marketplace,” said Steve Willardsen, president of Cargill’s turkey processing business. “Additionally, we have suspended ground turkey production at our Arkansas facility until the source can be pinpointed and actions to address it are taken. Public health and the safety of consumers cannot be compromised. It is regrettable that people may have become ill from eating our ground turkey products and for anyone who did, we are truly sorry. We go to great lengths to ensure the food we produce is safe, and we fully understand that people expect to be able to consume safe food each serving, every time.

“Suspending production until we can determine the source of the Salmonella Heidelberg at our Arkansas facility and take corrective action is the right thing to do. We are closely examining every aspect of our production process and have identified enhancements to our procedures in our efforts to ensure safe food. Eliminating food-borne illness is always our goal.”

The Food Safety and Inspection Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture issued a public health alert for ground turkey products on July 29 after reports of an estimated 77 illnesses, one which has resulted in death, in 26 states between March 1 and Aug. 1. Michigan and Ohio have reported the highest number of illnesses with 10 each, and Texas has reported 9.

The specific products in question include ground turkey chubs with a use or freeze-by date of Feb. 20 through Aug. 23, 85% ground turkey with a use or freeze-by date of Feb. 20 through Aug. 23, 95% ground turkey with a use or freeze-by date of Feb. 20 through Aug. 23, ground patties, and frozen ground turkey with production dates of Feb. 20 through Aug. 2.