A ground beef recall, which includes more than 167,400 pounds of meat, was announced by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service on Sunday. Although no illnesses were reported, the meat, which was processed by All American Meats, Inc., could be contaminated with E. coli.
As reported by the USDA, the contamination was discovered during routine FSIS surveillance. Although samples were tested at another facility, they were eventually traced back to the All American Meats, Inc. Omaha, Nebraska, processing plant.
To prevent a serious outbreak, the meat processing company issued a ground beef recall, which includes 167,427 pounds of meat processed on October 16.
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Escherichia coli, which is commonly referred to as E. coli, is a bacteria that naturally occurs in the intestinal tracts of humans and animals. Although some strains of the bacteria are completely harmless, others can cause serious illness.
As reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Shiga-toxin-producing E. coli, or STEC, is a specifically dangerous strain commonly associated with widespread outbreaks.
STEC is commonly found in the intestinal tracts of livestock and wild game, including cattle, deer, elk, goats, and sheep. Although the bacteria does not sicken animals, it can cause serious illness in humans who are exposed to contaminated animals or their meat.
To lessen the likelihood of exposure, everyone should wash their hands thoroughly after changing diapers or using the restroom. The CDC also recommends avoiding products that are unpasteurized, including raw milk and other dairy products.
Consumers can prevent contamination in the kitchen by washing their hands and thoroughly cleaning anything that comes into contact with uncooked meat.
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It is also important to cook all ground meats to a temperature of at least 160 degrees F.
Symptoms associated with STEC bacteria generally appear within three to four days after consuming contaminated meat. Common symptoms include nausea, stomach pain, and diarrhea.
Although the symptoms are usually mild, and generally go away without further treatment, some patients develop serious complications, which include hemolytic-uremic syndrome. The condition only occurs in an estimated 10 percent of those infected with E. coli, but it can lead to severe illness — including kidney failure.
Young children, the elderly, and people with compromised immune systems are at a higher risk of complications.
Although nobody reported illness associated with the All American Meats, Inc. ground beef recall, the products are being recalled as a precautionary measure. The recall includes bulk packages of lean “fine grind” ground beef, ground chuck, and ground round. The packages are marked “EST. 20420” and have a Sell By Date of 11-03-2015.
According to the CDC, the packages of meat were shipped to numerous retail locations throughout the United States. However, they have not named any specific stores where the product is commonly sold.
The CDC has classified the ground beef recall as a “Class I Recall,” which is defined as “a health hazard situation where there is a reasonable probability that the use of the product will cause serious, adverse health consequences or death.”
Consumers who purchase the recalled ground beef are urged to return the unused portion to the place of purchase for a full refund. The FSIS also urges consumers to check their freezer for the recalled product.
Anyone who believes they were sickened after consuming the contaminated meat should contact their family doctor. Severe symptoms should be treated as an emergency.
Consumers with questions about the ground beef recall, or food safety, in general, are urged to visit AskKaren.gov. Information is also available on the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHotline.
[Image via Shutterstock/Brent Hofacker]