July 17, 2018

Wolverine Ground Beef E. coli O157:H7 Outbreak Over

The CDC has declared that the E. coli O157:H7 outbreak linked to ground beef produced by Wolverine Packing Company appears to be over. In total, 12 people in 4 states were sickened in this outbreak. Seven (58% of the outbreak total) of ill persons were hospitalized; no one developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), and no deaths were reported.

Wolverine Packing E. coli Outbreak Map 62014Epidemiologic and traceback investigations indicated that contaminated ground beef produced by Wolverine was the likely source of this outbreak. The beef was distributed to retailers and restaurants nationwide.

In interviews, 11 of the 12 persons stated they ate ground beef prepared as a hamburger served at a restaurant before becoming ill. Findings of multiple traceback investigations of the ground beef used at restaurants where the ill persons dined identified Wolverine Packing Company as the source of the ground beef.

Of those 11 people, 8, or 73%, ordered that hamburger prepared rare, medium rare, or undercooked. Eating rare or undercooked hamburger is risky precisely because the meat may be contaminated with E. coli and other pathogenic bacteria.

The case count by states is: Massachusetts (1), Michigan (5), Missouri (1) and Ohio (5). Illness onset dates ranged from April 22, 2014 to May 2, 2014. Ill persons ranged in age from 16 to 46 years, with a median age of 25 years. Fifty-eight percent of ill persons were male.

A recall of 1.8 million pounds of the product was announced in May. The recalled product has the establishment number “EST. 2574B” inside the USDA mark of inspection and has a production code in the format of: “Packing Nos: MM DD 14” between “03 31 14” and “04 18 14”. A full list of recalled products can be found at the USDA web site.

Consumers may still have this ground beef in their freezers. It was distributed to a limited number of retailers. Check to see if you have it; if you do, discard it in a closed container or return to the place of purchase for a refund. Do not attempt to cook the beef; cross-contamination can easily occur which can make you sick.

To protect yourself, do not eat raw or undercooked ground beef. Cook ground beef hamburgers and beef mixtures such as meatloaf and meatballs to 160°F internal temperature as measured by a meat thermometer. And always ask that ground beef products you order at restaurants are cooked well done.

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