E. coli in Ground Beef Causes Illness, Death

ground beef recall label

Editor's note: This story was updated Sept. 25, 2018 to include Consumer Reports' warning and on Sept. 24, 2018 to include a list of stores where the beef was sold.

Sept. 20, 2018 -- Cargill Meat Solutions has recalled more than 132,000 pounds of ground beef because of E. coli contamination.

One person has died and 17 others have become sick after eating the beef, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The products were produced and packaged June 21, 2018, and shipped to stores nationwide. While the products in the recall are no longer on store shelves, the CDC and USDA have urged consumers to check their freezers, too. But that's not good enough, Consumer Reports says. The consumer watchdog is urging everyone to throw away any ground beef purchased between June 21 and July 11 "out of an abundance of caution."

The magazine says the USDA and Cargill said other beef products could also be affected by the outbreak that have not yet been made public. Because of that, Consumer Reports says, we don't know which products could be a danger. 

These stores have been named as having sold the recalled products: 

  • Meijer stores nationwide
  • Safeway stores nationwide
  • Sam's Club stores nationwide
  • Target stores in California, Florida, and Iowa 
  • Central Meat & Provision Co., 1603 National Ave., San Diego, CA
  • Save Mart, 9999 Niblick Drive, Roseville, CA
  • Yosemite Meat Co., 2674 Vassar Ave., Merced, CA

The illnesses happened in July and were reported in four states: Colorado, Florida, Massachusetts and Tennessee. The person who died was from Florida, the CDC says.

Although the CDC says the outbreak appears to be over, officials are concerned that consumers may have contaminated ground beef in their freezer. Anyone who has meat included in the recall should throw it away immediately or return it to the store where it was purchased. 

The recalled products include establishment number “EST. 86R” inside the USDA mark of inspection. A full list is available here. The USDA did not include store names in its information about the recall. 

The E. coli bacteria strain found in the meat -- Escherichia coli O26 -- can cause diarrhea, which may be bloody, and vomiting. In more severe cases, it can cause a type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome. Children under 5, older adults, and people with weakened immunity are more likely to get the syndrome. Anyone who is bruising easily, has an unhealthy pale color, or is urinating less should immediately seek emergency care.

The most common treatment for E. coli infection is supportive care, including making sure patients stay hydrated. Antibiotics are not recommended.

Consumers with questions about the recall can call 1-844-419-1574.

WebMD Article Reviewed by Arefa Cassoobhoy, MD, MPH on September 20, 2018

Sources

USDA news release: “Cargill Meat Solutions Recalls Ground Beef Products Due To Possible E. Coli O26 Contamination.”

CDC: "Outbreak of E. coli Infections Linked to Ground Beef."

USDA: "Retail Consignees For FSIS Recall 081-2018."

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