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Cargill recalls ground beef after one death, several illnesses

FSIS concerned some products may be in consumers’ freezers.

Cargill Meat Solutions is recalling approximately 132,606 lb. of ground beef products made from the chuck portion of the carcass due to possible Escherichia coli O26 contamination, according to a U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety & Inspection Service (FSIS) announcement.

The ground beef items were produced and packaged on June 21, 2018, and bear establishment number “EST. 86R” inside the USDA mark of inspection. The items were shipped to retail locations nationwide, FSIS reported.

On Aug. 16, 2018, FSIS was notified of an investigation of E. coli O26 illnesses. FSIS, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention and state public health and agricultural partners determined that raw ground beef was the probable source of the reported illnesses. The epidemiological investigation identified 17 illnesses and one death with illness, with onset dates ranging from July 5 to July 25, 2018.

The Cargill Meat Solutions ground beef products were identified following further investigation related to Recall 072-2018, conducted on Aug. 30, 2018, where ground beef products were recalled in connection with the E. coli O26 outbreak. FSIS traceback information indicated that case-patients consumed ground beef products purchased at various retail stores that were supplied by Cargill Meat Solutions.

E. coli O26, like the more common E. coli O157:H7, is a serovar of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC). People can become ill from STECs two to eight days (average of three to four days) after exposure to the organism.

Most people infected with STEC O26 develop diarrhea (often bloody) and vomiting. Some illnesses last longer and can be more severe. Infection is usually diagnosed by testing a stool sample. Vigorous rehydration and other supportive care is the usual treatment; antibiotic treatment is generally not recommended.

Most people recover within a week, but rarely, some develop a more severe infection. Hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) is a type of kidney failure common with STEC O26 infection. HUS can occur in people of any age but is most common in children under five years old, older adults and those with weakened immune systems. It is marked by easy bruising, pallor and decreased urine output. People who experience these symptoms should seek emergency medical care immediately.

“FSIS is concerned that some product may be frozen and in consumers’ freezers. Consumers who have purchased these products are urged not to consume them. These products should be thrown away or returned to the place of purchase,” the agency said.

FSIS routinely conducts recall effectiveness checks to verify that recalling firms notify their customers of the recall and that steps are taken to make certain that the product is no longer available to consumers. When available, the retail distribution list(s) will be posted on the FSIS website at www.fsis.usda.gov/recalls.

FSIS advises all consumers to safely prepare raw meat products, both fresh and frozen, and to only consume ground beef that has been cooked to a temperature of 160°F. The only way to confirm that ground beef is cooked to a temperature high enough to kill harmful bacteria is to use a food thermometer that measures internal temperature.

“Consumers should take proper precautions when handling raw meat products. Proper hand washing after handling raw meat, poultry and eggs can greatly reduce the risk of bacterial cross-contamination to other foods and kitchen surfaces," FSIS said. "It is important to prevent cross-contamination by washing countertops and sinks with hot, soapy water.”

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