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Contaminated ground beef is the probable source of a nationwide E. coli outbreak in which one person has died and 17 others sickened, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The outbreak has spurred Cargill Meat Solutions of Fort Morgan, CO, to issue a recall of more than 66 tons of ground beef products. The products were made from the chuck portion of the carcass that may be contaminated, the USDA said.
Consumers are being urged to check freezers and throw out the contaminated ground beef. The products bear establishment number “EST. 86R” inside the USDA mark of inspection.
The recalled products (view labels at this link):
- 3-pound chubs of “OUR CERTIFIED 73/27 FINE GRIND GROUND BEEF” with a USE OR FREEZE BY JUL/11/18 and case code 00228749002653.
- 10-pound chubs of “EXCEL 73/27 FINE GRIND GROUND BEEF” with a Use/Frz. By Jul 11 and case code 00228749089098.
- 10-pound chubs of “EXCEL 73/27 FINE GRIND GROUND BEEF” with a Use/Frz. By Jul 11 and case code 90028749002751.
- 10-pound chubs of “EXCEL 81/19 FINE GRIND GROUND BEEF” with a Use/Frz. By Jul 11 and case code 90028749003536.
- 10-pound chubs of “EXCEL GROUND BEEF 81/19 FINE GRIND” with a Use/Frz. By Jul 11 and case code 00228749003568.
- 10-pound chubs of “EXCEL CHUCK GROUND BEEF 81/19 FINE GRIND” with a Use/Frz. By Jul 11 and case code 90028749402773.
- 20-pound chubs of “EXCEL 81/19 FINE GRIND GROUND BEEF COMBO” with a Use/Frz. By Jul 11 and case code 90028749073935.
- 10-pound chubs of “Sterling Silver CHUCK GROUND BEEF 81/19 FINE GRIND” with a Use/Frz. By Jul 11 and case code 00228749702416.
- 10-pound chubs of “CERTIFIED ANGUS BEEF CHUCK GROUND BEEF 81/19 FINE GRIND” with a Use/Frz. By Jul 11 and case code 90028749802405.
- 10-pound chubs of “CERTIFIED ANGUS BEEF CHUCK GROUND BEEF 81/19 FINE GRIND” with a Use/Frz. By Jul 11 with case code 00228749802413.
- 10-pound chubs of “Fire River Farms CLASSIC GROUND BEEF 81/19 FINE GRIND” with a USE/FREEZE BY: 07/11/2018 with case code 90734730297241.
Contaminated ground beef timeline
On Aug. 16, the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service was notified of an investigation of E. coli O26 illnesses. The FSIS, CDC, and state public health and agriculture partners determined that raw ground beef was the probable source, and an epidemiological investigation identified 17 illnesses and one death with onset dates ranging from July 5 to July 25.
The Cargill Meat Solutions’ ground beef products were identified after further investigation related to Recall 072-2018, conducted on Aug. 30. In that recall, ground beef products were recalled in connection with an E. coli O26 outbreak. The FSIS’ traceback information indicated that patients consumed Cargill Meat Solutions ground beef products purchased at various retail stores.
Contaminated ground beef: E. coli O26
E. coli O26, like the more common E. coli O157:H7, is a serovar of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC). People can become ill from a STEC infection two to 8 days after exposure to the organism, although the average is 3-4 days.
Most people infected with STEC O26 develop diarrhea (often bloody) and vomiting. Some illnesses last longer and can be more severe.
Infection is usually diagnosed by testing of a stool sample. Vigorous rehydration and other supportive care is the usual treatment; antibiotic treatment is generally not recommended.
Contaminated ground beef: E. coli complication
Most people recover within a week, but some develop a more severe infection: hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), which is a type of kidney failure common with a STEC O26 infection.
HUS can occur in people of any age, but it is most common in children under the age of 5, older adults, and anyone with a compromised immune system. It is marked by easy bruising, pallor, and decreased urine output.
If you or your child experiences these symptoms, you should seek emergency medical care immediately.
Contaminated ground beef: FAQs
How does ground beef become contaminated?
Bacteria are everywhere in our environment, and some can cause illness when consumed. Bacteria on the surface of foods can easily be killed during cooking.
When beef is ground, however, bacteria from its surface are mixed throughout the meat. That means ground beef — and any other type of ground meat – must be cooked thoroughly in order to kill the bacteria.
Will freezing kill the bacteria?
No. Freezing can kill some bacteria, but other bacteria can survive.
How can you be sure ground beef is safe?
Proper cooking is the only reliable method of ensuring that ground beef is safe to eat, and that means cooking it to an internal temperature of at least 160 degrees Fahrenheit to kill bacteria.