Officials from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) have ordered a ground beef recall for approximately 1.8 million pounds of products. Although the recall was only announced today, the potentially tainted ground beef items were processed in a Detroit, Michigan-based factory between March 31 and April 18.
The recall was initiated after FDA officials suspected the ground beef may be contaminated by the E. coli bacteria. It originated from the Wolverine Packing Company and was eventually shipped to distributors.
In addition to being sent throughout Michigan, the problematic ground beef also reached Ohio, Missouri, and Massachusetts. An article from the Detroit Free Press says the beef was sold for use in restaurants.
If you work in a dining establishment and are wondering if some of the recalled ground beef items might have made it into your kitchen, there are a couple of telltale signs that can let you know for sure.
Firstly, items that fall under the recall have an establishment number that reads as "EST.2574B." Also, the ground beef packaging should have a production date code that says "Packing Nos.:" and then include numbers ranging from "03 31 14" to "04 18 14." As you might have expected, those numerals correspond to the date range connected with the recall.
FSIS representatives were notified of the situation a week ago and have since determined the ground beef recall does not affect the National School Lunch Program. It is also not associated with any ground beef that was sold via the Internet or through catalogs.
A press release about the recall reports 11 people became ill and their symptom onset dates ranged from April 22 to May 2. Generally, people get sick an average of three to four days after consuming meat that is contaminated with E. coli. Symptoms include bloody diarrhea, cramping and dehydration. More serious complications can also occur. Children under the age of five and older adults are usually the most at-risk for becoming ill.
In the document, FSIS officials also reminded readers about the importance of preparing ground beef and other types of meat safely. Cooking it at a temperature that is at least 160 degrees Fahrenheit can kill harmful bacteria, after which the meat is normally safe to eat.
However, using a meat thermometer is the only reliable way to ensure the internal temperature is hot enough to be effective. If you're concerned about this ground beef recall, or just want to do your part to avoid having to deal with foodborne illnesses, think about getting a meat thermometer and keeping it easily accessible in your kitchen.
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