September 2, 2014

USDA Updates E. coli 0157:H7 Public Health Alert for Canadian XL Foods Beef

The USDA has updated its public health alert about E. coli 0157:H7 in imported XL Foods beef. Standard recall effectiveness checks have found that whole muscle beef cuts produced on the same dates as the recalled ground beef. Sub-prime materials, such as short ribs, were “produced on the same production dates as beef subject to recall in Canada were being used by a U.S. facility to manufacture other products and that the beef short ribs were being trimmed in order for the trim to be used to make ground beef.”

In other words, beef from cattle slaughtered at Establishment 38 (XL Foods) was produced under unsanitary conditions that contaminated many products. All products that are non-intact, like ground beef and trim, along with all cuts of beef that will be processed into non-intact products, are considered adulterated.

The scope of the recall has been expanded to include production dates of August 23, August 24, August 27, August 28, and August 29 2012. No recall is being announced in the United States at this time because, according to the USDA, “the goal of such an action is to have the establishment most directly associated with producing adulterated product remove the product from commerce. In this case, the establishment was XL Foods, Inc., a Canadian firm, and that recall has been initiated in Canada.” The products were distributed in these states: California, Michigan, Nebraska, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wisconsin.

The Canadian government is investigating an outbreak of eight E. coli 0157:H7 cases in that country. So far, four people in Edmonton, three in Calgary, and one in central Alberta have been sickened with the bacteria. There is no word on whether or not those illnesses are linked to the recalled beef.

This health alert and recall stresses the need for safe food handling of all raw meat products. Always wash your hands before and after handling raw meat, disinfect utensils, cutting boards, and pans, and avoid cross-contamination with foods that are eaten uncooked. Always cook ground beef to 160 degrees F and test the temperature using a meat thermometer. Never serve rare, medium-rare, medium, or medium-well done hamburgers. E. coli 0157:H7 is a potentially deadly bacteria that can cause kidney failure and dehydration.

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