WebMD News Brief

E. Coli Risk from Beef Products Grows; More Recalled

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This story was updated on May 23, 2019, with an additional recall and on May 14, 2019, with updated statistics on cases. 

April 12, 2019 -- The E. coli outbreak linked to ground beef has now sickened more than 190 people in 10 states, according to the CDC.

No common brand or supplier of the beef has yet been identified. But on April 24, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced that a an addictional recall of 53,200 pounds of ground beef that is possibly contaminated with E. coli, also. The recall comes from Grant Park Packing of Franklin Park, IL, and includes bulk ground beef shipped to a distributor in Minnesota and to Kentucky for institutional use. 

This recall comes a day after 113,424 pounds of ground beef was also recalled. That recall included products sold by K2D Foods, doing business as Colorado Premium Foods of Carrollton, GA, that was sold to two distributors: one in Georgia and one in Florida. The USDA says it has not confirmed that the newly recalled beef is related to the ongoing outbreak, but both it and the Grant Park recall involve contamination from E. coli O103. 

Since the outbreak began in early March, there have been reports of people getting sick in Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Minnesota, Mississippi, Ohio, Tennessee, and Virginia. So far, 28 people who’ve gotten ill have been hospitalized. No deaths have been reported.

The USDA in May announced another recall of more than 60,000 pounds of beef products -- not just ground beef -- over concerns it may be contaminated with E. coli 0157:H7. This recall involves beef sold by Aurora Packing Co. of North Aurora, IL. The agency did not say if the Aurora recall was related to the larger outbreak. 

Symptoms of E. coli infection often include severe stomach cramps, bloody diarrhea, and vomiting.

Investigators working to find the source of the outbreak have questioned many of the people who’ve gotten sick about foods they had eaten the week before they became ill. Many of those who have gotten sick reported eating ground beef. Many people said they bought trays or tubes of ground beef at the grocery store and used it to make dishes like spaghetti sauce or sloppy Joes, or at it in restaurants. 

If you’re planning to eat ground beef, the CDC says you should cook it and handle it carefully. Beef needs to be heated to at least 160 F to kill E. coli. If you’re putting it in a sauce or a dish like lasagna, check the temperature in several different places before serving. After cooking the beef, refrigerate it within 2 hours and use it within 3 or 4 days.

Make sure to keep raw beef away from foods you won’t cook prior to eating, like lettuce. Also be sure to wash your hands and anything the meat touches, like utensils, cutting boards, and kitchen sponges, with hot soapy water or a solution of bleach and water.

People usually get sick within 3 or 4 days of swallowing the germ.

WebMD Health News Brief Reviewed by Hansa D. Bhargava, MD on April 12, 2019

Sources

CDC: “Outbreak of E. coli infections.”

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