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Waco safe from turkey scare

Nov. 16, 2010

By Rachel Stobaugh

A national food recall just before the holidays appears to be a non-issue for Waco cooks.

Listeria-contaminated turkey was not distributed in Waco area, despite the recall of more than 2,600 pounds of fully-cooked turkey by the federal food safety and inspection service.

The New Braunfels Smokehouse, north of San Antonio, has been blamed for all 2,609 pounds of contaminated turkey, but Mike Dietert, vice president for the smokehouse, said it is not responsible for all of the contaminated turkey.

"The recall only affects 266 pounds of our product," Dietert said. "The majority of the recalled meat is in North Carolina."

This recalled turkey did not directly affect the surrounding cities because the orders from New Braunfels Smokehouse are taken via phone and online, and are not distributed to local groceries.

"We have records for all of the contaminated turkey that was purchased, and we are calling each customer to tell them to destroy the product immediately and we will either replace it or refund their money," Dietert said.

While the contaminated turkey is not being sold in stores, the dangers of Listeria bacteria are not to be taken lightly.

The United States Department of Agriculture named the turkey a "Class I Recall," which means it is a high health risk.

The USDA reported the incident as "ready-to-eat smoked turkey breast products that may be contaminated with Listeria monocyotgenes."

According to the USDA, the bacteria Listeria can cause Listeriosis, a potentially fatal disease. While healthy people rarely contract Listeriosis, it can cause headache, fever, neck stiffness and nausea.

The bacteria can also lead to an infection in early pregnancy that leads to miscarriage, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Antibiotics can be prescribed to kill the bacteria causing the infection.

While there are dangers of catching Listeriosis, the contaminated turkey from New Braunfels is a rather small amount of turkey.

"This is the first recall we have ever had in 65 years of business," Dietert said.