Cargill resuming ground turkey production

by Eric Schroeder
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SPRINGDALE, ARK. — Cargill said it has resumed ground turkey production at its meat processing facility in Springdale after the U.S. Department of Agriculture approved an enhanced food safety plan. Cargill suspended ground turkey production after voluntary recalls in August and September of more than 36 million lbs of ground turkey due to possible contamination from Salmonella Heidelberg.

In line with the resumption of ground turkey production, Cargill has brought back approximately 50 employees who were part of an early October, 130-person, layoff. More than 70 people already had been called back to work as job openings in other parts of the facility occurred.

Steve Willardsen, president of Cargill Value Added Meats Retail, said “no stone has been left unturned” as Cargill searched for answers to help it improve food safety.

Cargill said it has reactivated one ground turkey production line, and it plans to reactivate the other three over the coming weeks as part of a multiphase ramp-up of production at Springdale. As part of the resumption of production, Cargill said it has completed several actions, including:

 Complete reassessment and overhaul of the facility’s food safety plan;
 Implementation of several new food safety measures, including more and better bacterial reduction steps throughout the process;
 Creation of a three-phase ground turkey sampling and monitoring program which is the most rigorous in the industry;
 Use of high pressure processing to reduce Salmonella; and
 Development of an enhanced process control monitoring system to ensure all aspects of the company’s Salmonella control program continuously are generating the best possible results.

Cargill also said it is working with a number of university, government and private researchers to accelerate the development of new technologies that have shown significant promise for commercial application.

“Our quest for the safest food products possible is never ending,” Mr. Willardsen said. “With the collective knowledge, experience and capabilities we’ve tapped to find solutions, we are confident in our ability to better ensure the safest ground turkey products available for consumers. We are also very pleased to be able to bring people back to work during this holiday season.”

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