Statement by Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director, Food & Water Watch
Washington, D.C. – “Last night’s announcement by Cargill of a recall of 36 million pounds of ground turkey products is just the latest example of why we need strong regulatory and public health programs in place to protect consumers.
“People have been getting sick with Salmonella for several months, while the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state health departments struggled to identify a likely source of the contamination. Budget cuts have hampered the ability of federal and state health agencies to effectively protect public health, and this outbreak and recall offer compelling proof that there are human costs to budget cuts to critical public health programs.
“The illnesses that triggered this recall were caused by an antibiotic-resistant strain of Salmonella Heidelberg, which makes the illnesses more serious and harder to treat. This once again points to the public health crisis that is being caused by the overuse of antibiotics in livestock production.
“Unfortunately, it’s not the first time that meat and poultry have been recalled because of contamination with antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and it’s not even the first time a Cargill meat plant has had this problem. Until the overuse of antibiotics in livestock production stops, consumers will be faced with the additional threat of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
“Because it covers several months of production at a very large plant, this recall covers a huge amount of product sold across the country, just the latest example of the tremendous impact that just one large plant can have on national public safety when something goes wrong.
“As Congress gets ready to debate funding for federal agencies, this recall is a timely reminder of how vital public health programs like meat and poultry inspection and foodborne illness surveillance are to all of us.”