Calif. salmonella death was 65-year-old woman


Sacramento County health officials identified the victim's age and sex Thursday following media requests. They did not release her name or when she died.

The woman was one of six known salmonella victims in California.

Wednesday, the Agriculture Department asked Minnesota-based meat company Cargill to recall 36 million pounds of turkey, saying the meat was linked to the California death and at least 77 illnesses across the country.

This recall request came nearly five months after the first illness surfaced in March. In May, investigators linked the outbreak to ground turkey from a Cargill plant in Arkansas.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said it took a long time because they wanted to get it right.

"To have an effective recall, you have to kind of know where the problems are, and that requires tracing back which does take time. Plus, you're dealing with frozen products, which aren't necessarily consumed immediately after purchase," Vilsack said.

Federal health officials said they found evidence that pointed not just to Cargill but other companies as well.

They said they wanted to be absolutely sure before triggering one of the largest meat recalls in history.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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