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Illnesses linked to ground turkey

WASHINGTON -- The government is scrambling to find the source of a salmonella outbreak likely linked to ground turkey that has killed one and sickened dozens more.

Finding the source of an outbreak hasn't been easy; the government has been chasing the illnesses for months. The Agriculture Department, which oversees meat safety, said it is still investigating who produced the meat, and the department hasn't initiated a recall.

California state health officials said yesterday that the one death was in Sacramento County. Seventy-six people in 26 states have been made sick from the same strain of the disease.

The illnesses date back to March, and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Monday that cultures of ground turkey from four retail locations between March 7 and June 27 showed contamination with the same strain of salmonella, though those samples were not specifically linked to the illnesses. The agency said preliminary information showed that three of those samples have been linked to the same production establishment, but it did not name the retailers or the manufacturers.

The silence from government officials may be attributed to USDA rules that make it harder to investigate and recall salmonella-tainted poultry. Because salmonella is common in poultry, it is not illegal for meat to be tainted with the pathogen.

-- AP

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