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Salmonella outbreak linked to Tyson chicken products, nine and counting?

In a follow up to the recall of approximately 33,840 pounds of uncooked mechanically separated chicken by Tyson Foods late last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced the investigation into the salmonella outbreak linked to the recalled product on Jan. 14.

CDC investigates salmonella outbreak linked to Tyson chicken products

According to the most recent data, a total of 9 persons infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Heidelberg have been reported from Tennessee. Two people required hospitalization.

Based on the investigation to date, it points to the consumption of Tyson brand mechanically separated chicken is the likely source of the outbreak of Salmonella Heidelberg infections at the Tennessee correctional facility.

Eight of the nine of the sick people at the correctional institution report eating consuming foods containing mechanically separated chicken in the week before becoming ill, according to interviews.

The federal health agency does point out that the strain of Salmonella Heidelberg implicated in this outbreak, a common strain, has also been reported to PulseNet in the 19 other individuals from 12 states. The CDC and partnering state and local health agencies are investigating whether these are related to the Tyson chicken.

The CDC notes that antibiotic resistance testing is currently ongoing and results will be released when available.

According to "Ask Karen" at the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS):

Mechanically separated poultry (i.e., chicken, turkey) is a paste-like and batter-like product produced by forcing the bones and attached edible tissue through a sieve or similar device to separate the bone from the edible poultry tissue. Industry uses this product in the formulation of other poultry products. Because this mechanical process crushes or pulverizes bones, resulting in a limited amount of bone particles, Industry must label the resulting product as "mechanically separated chicken" (or turkey) on the product's label. Industry uses mechanically separated chicken and turkey in products such as chicken and turkey franks, bologna, nuggets, and patties.

The recall of the Tyson chicken product has opened up other questions concerning recalls. Food Safety lawyer, Bill Marler, in a recent post asked, "Why does Tyson recall its product after seven people are sickened and Foster Farms recalls nothing after 550 people are sickened in two outbreaks?"

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