October 19, 2017

E. Coli Outbreak Triggers 900 Ton Recall of Restaurant Ground Beef

An E.coli O157:H7 outbreak that has sickened at least 11 people in four states has triggered a recall of 1.8 million pounds of ground beef products produced for restaurant use by Wolverine Packing Company of Detroit, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA-FSIS). The ground beef products were produced between March 31, 2014 and April 18, 2014.

ground-beef-fpbFSIS said the size of the recall stems from “lack of microbiological independence between lot production, as well as a deficiency in supportive record-keeping by distributors.” The USDA has released 97-page list of recalled products, including beef patties and Angus burgers.  A list of retailers that received the recalled meat will be posted when possible, the agency said.

The recalled products were shipped to distributors nationwide for retail and restaurant use. In Michigan, five E.coli illnesses have been confirmed and a sixth case is suspected. All six reported eating a rare hamburger at a restaurant prior to becoming ill.  In Ohio, four illnesses have been confirmed.  At this time, Massachusetts and Missouri have one reported case each. Onset of illness dates ranged from April 22 to May 2. None of the recalled meat was distributed to the Department of Defense, the National School Lunch Program, or through catalog/internet sales.

E. coli O157:H7 is a bacteria that can cause serious illness and death. Symptoms, which develop within 2-8 days of exposure, include bloody diarrhea and abdominal cramps. In some cases,  patients develop a condition called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) which causes kidney failure. HUS most often affects children under 5-years old and older adults, but can happen to people of any age. Hallmarks of HUS include pallor, easy bruising, and decreased urine output. See a doctor immediately if you have experienced these symptoms.

The packing code date appears on the recalled products in the format: “Packing Nos: MM DD 14.”  The recalled products include all dates between “03 31 14” and “04 18 14” that bear the establishment number “EST. 2574B.”

Ground beef is only safe to consume when cooked to an internal temperature of 160˚F, FSIS cautions. Use of a food thermometer is the only way to verify this number.

This post was updated May 20.

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