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Tainted Turkey Served To City School Students

Nov 15, 2002 | The Saratogian School officials removed turkey deli meat from school lunchrooms throughout the district following a nationwide recall of the meat, which has been linked to a listeriosis outbreak.
Parents were notified of the recall in a letter sent from the district early this week.

Listeriosis is a food-borne bacterial infection that rarely causes serious symptoms in healthy children or adults but may cause severe disease in those with weakened immune systems and in pregnant women, according to the New York State Department of Health.

While there have been several outbreaks reported in New York City and elsewhere in the state, none have been reported in the Capital Region, according to Kristine Smith, a spokeswoman for the Department of Health.

Deputy Superintendent Janice White said no nurses or parents in the district have notified school officials about symptoms related to listeriosis, which has an incubation period of anywhere from two days to a month.

Symptoms may include fever, muscle aches and occasionally nausea or diarrhea. In more serious cases, symptoms include headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance or seizure.

In mid-October, district food service workers removed an unspecified amount of turkey product produced by Pilgrim's Pride Corporation in Franconia, Pa., after the company issued a voluntary recall of approximately 27 million pounds of fresh and frozen turkey and chicken product.

The turkey product involved in the recall was served as a deli bar choice item at Maple Avenue Middle School and Saratoga Springs High School from Sept. 4 to Oct. 11 and served as an alternate sandwich at elementary schools Sept. 4 to 6, Sept. 23 to 27 and Oct. 7 to 11, White said.

The Department of Health said the product tested positive for a strain of Listeria different than that of the outbreak strain, which has been traced to Jack Lambersky Poultry Company, located in Camden, N.J. The company has recalled 200,000 pounds of poultry products.

School officials said the school's supply of recalled deli meat was not checked for contamination but that it will no longer purchase products from Pilgrim's Pride Corporation.

The spokeswoman for the Department of Health underscored that annual routine levels of infection should not be confused with virulent outbreak strains.

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