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Tests show high salmonella rates at Jennie-O plants

Federal investigators found salmonella bacteria in nearly half of the ground turkey tested last year at the Jennie-O Turkey Store plant in Willmar. The rate is one of the country’s highest, and nearly fails the federal standard, the Star Tribune of Minneapolis reported in its Friday editions.

Salmonella levels were also higher than the industry average at two other Jennie-O ground turkey plants in Minnesota and Wisconsin, according to test results from 22 U.S. plants obtained by the Star Tribune under the Freedom of Information Act.

On average, the bacteria is found in about 20 percent of samples in U.S. ground turkey plants. Plants fail if 55 percent of samples are positive. Over the past three years, three Jennie-O plants had a salmonella rate of at least 40 percent – twice the industry average – in one or more of the annual samplings, the test data show.

No outbreaks of illness from salmonella have been traced to the Jennie-O plants.