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July 3, 2008

E. coli Ground Beef Recall -- Cook the Meat!!

Get your meat thermometer ready.  This one is scary because there is apparently no way for consumers to know whether their ground beef came from the affected source. To protect yourself, you must make sure the inside of the meat gets up to 160 degrees F.  Here's the FSIS (Food Safety and Inspection Service) news release:

WASHINGTON, July 3, 2008 - Nebraska Beef, Ltd., an Omaha, Neb., establishment is expanding its June 30 recall to include all beef manufacturing trimmings and other products intended for use in raw ground beef produced between May 16 and June 26, totaling approximately 5.3 million pounds, that may be contaminated with E. coli O157:H7, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service announced today.

This recall is being expanded based on the ongoing epidemiological and traceback investigations of a foodborne illness outbreak.

FSIS has concluded that the production practices employed by Nebraska Beef, Ltd. are insufficient to effectively control E. coli O157:H7 in their beef products that are intended for grinding. The products subject to recall may have been produced under insanitary conditions.

The products subject to recall were further processed into ground beef at other firms, and will likely not bear the establishment number "EST 19336" on products made available for direct consumer purchase.

FSIS advises all consumers to safely prepare their raw meat products, and only consume ground beef or ground beef patties that have been cooked to a safe internal temperature of 160º F. The only way to be sure ground beef is cooked to a high enough temperature to kill harmful bacteria is to use a thermometer to measure the internal temperature.

Consumers with questions about the recall should contact the company's Vice President of Administration James Timmerman at (402) 733-0456. Media with questions about the recall should contact company representative William Lamson at (402) 397-7300.

The epidemiological investigations and a case control study conducted by the Michigan and Ohio Departments of Agriculture and Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention determined that there is an association between the ground beef products and 40 illnesses reported in Michigan (21) and Ohio (19). The illnesses were linked through the epidemiological investigation and by their PFGE pattern, or DNA fingerprint, found in PulseNet, a database maintained by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Also as a result of the investigation, on June 25 FSIS announced a recall of ground beef products sold at Kroger retail establishments in Michigan and in Central and Northwestern Ohio.

E. coli O157:H7 is a potentially deadly bacterium that can cause bloody diarrhea, dehydration, and in the most severe cases, kidney failure. The very young, seniors and persons with weak immune systems are the most susceptible to foodborne illness. Anyone with signs or symptoms of foodborne illness should consult a medical professional.

Consumers with food safety questions can "Ask Karen," the FSIS virtual representative available 24 hours a day at AskKaren.gov. The toll-free USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) is available in English and Spanish and can be reached from l0 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Eastern Time) Monday through Friday. Recorded food safety messages are available 24 hours a day.

July 3, 2008 in food safety | Permalink

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