A major meat packing company is recalling ground beef products across the Southeast due to a concern about possible E. coli contamination.
The Department of Agriculture said more than 60,000 pounds of meat has been recalled after the Ohio Department of Agriculture discovered the bacteria during routine testing.
According to several reports, the meat products were sold at stores around the south. While North Carolina was not listed as a site where the beef was sold, authorities are warning consumers in North Carolina to check their ground beef meat products.
Stores affected by the recall include Kroger, Publix, Sam’s Club, Wal-Mart and Winn Dixie.
The meat was handled by National Beef Packing Co. LLC, of Dodge City, Kansas.
A spokesman for National Beef Packaging told the Associated Press that it has never previously had a problem with E. coli. The company said it’s reviewing processes and procedures in an effort to identify the cause of the contamination and prevent it from occurring again.
So far, there have been no reports of illnesses in connection from the tainted beef, according to the USDA.
Tiffanee Conrad-Acuña, Richmond County Livestock Agent says, “Our food system is the safest in the world because of the efforts of family farmers and safety inspectors. Not only do these farmers strive to produce the safest and most wholesome product as possible for consumers, they are also feeding their own families.”
National Beef Packing officials said the problem was discovered during routine testing by the Ohio Department of Agriculture. E. coli is a serious bacterial ailment that can cause bloody diarrhea, dehydration and even kidney failure. In some cases, if can be fatal. E. coli is especially dangerous to the very young, the elderly, and those with weak immune systems.
Products subject to recall:
Ground beef chubs produced July 23, with a “Freeze By” date of Aug. 12:
— Boxes of 10-pound chubs of “National Beef 80/20 Fine Ground Chuck,” with the product code 483.
— Boxes of eight 5-pound chubs of National Beef 80/20 Fine Ground Chuck,” with the product code 684.
— Boxes of 12 3-pound chubs of “National Beef 80/20 Fine Ground Chuck,” with the product codes of 782 or 785.
— Boxes of six 10-pound chubs of “National Beef 80/20 Fine Ground Chuck,” with the product code 787.
Ground beef chubs produced July 25, with a “Freeze By” date of Aug. 14:
— Boxes of eight 10-pound chubs of “National Beef 81/19 Fine Ground Beef,” with the product code 431.
— Boxes of eight 10-pound chubs of “National Beef 90/10 Fine Ground Beef,” with the product code 471.
— Boxes of six 10-pound chubs of “National Beef 86/14 Fine Ground Beef,” with the product code 494.
The company says each box bears the establishment number “Est. 262” within the USDA inspection mark.
Consumers with questions about the recall can call Keith Welty, of National Beef Packing, at 816-713-8631.
Diseased meats have been in the news lately, when Cargill Meat Solutions Corporation recalled approximately 36 million pounds of ground turkey products that were contaminated with a multi-drug resistant strain of Salmonella.
This recall followed a July 29 FSIS Public Health Alert that was initiated due to concerns about illnesses caused by Salmonella Heidelberg that may be associated with use and consumption of ground turkey. A total of 79 persons infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Heidelberg have been reported from 26 states between March 1 and August 3. The outbreak strain of Salmonella Heidelberg is resistant to several commonly prescribed antibiotics. Among the ill persons with available information, 22 (38 percent) have been hospitalized and one death has been reported.
As a result of the epidemiologic and traceback investigations, as well as in-plant findings, FSIS determined that there is a link between the Cargill ground turkey products and this illness outbreak. FSIS is continuing to work with CDC, affected state public health partners, and the company on the investigation.
Consumption of food contaminated with Salmonella can cause salmonellosis, one of the most common bacterial foodborne illnesses. Salmonella infections can be life-threatening, especially to those with weak immune systems, such as infants, the elderly, and persons with HIV infection or undergoing chemotherapy. The most common manifestations of salmonellosis are diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever within six to 72 hours. Additional symptoms may be chills, headache, nausea and vomiting that can last up to seven days.
SAFE PREPARATION OF FRESH AND FROZEN GROUND BEEF
Wash hands with warm, soapy water for at least 20 seconds before and after handling raw meat and poultry. Wash cutting boards, dishes and utensils with hot, soapy water. Immediately clean spills.
Keep raw meat, fish and poultry away from other food that will not be cooked.
Consumers should only eat ground beef or ground beef patties that have been cooked to a safe internal temperature of 160° F, whether prepared from fresh or frozen raw meat products.
Color is NOT a reliable indicator that ground beef or ground beef patties have been cooked to a temperature high enough to kill harmful bacteria such as E. coli O157:H7.
The only way to be sure ground beef is cooked to a high enough temperature to kill harmful bacteria is to use a thermometer to measure the internal temperature.
Refrigerate raw meat and poultry within two hours after purchase or one hour if temperatures exceed 90° F. Refrigerate cooked meat and poultry within two hours after cooking.
For questions or comments contact the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHOTLINE or visit www.fsis.usda.gov
Staff Writer Dawn Kurry can be reached at (910) 997-3111 ex. 43, or by e-mail at email@example.com.