Over a million pounds of ground beef products have been recalled by the U.S. Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) on Monday over fears they may be contaminated with dangerous E. coli O157:H7. The recall comes after the items from a 75-year-old Michigan firm, Wolverine Packing Company, was linked to an E. coli outbreak affecting 11 people in these four states: in Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri and Ohio. The FSIS has classified this recall as "Class I" health hazard suggesting the use of this product could cause serious, adverse health consequences, or death.
“The products subject to recall bear the establishment number “EST. 2574B” and will have a production date code in the format “Packing Nos: MM DD 14” between “03 31 14” and “04 18 14,”” said the FSIS, in the press release. The items produced between March 31, 2014 and April 18, 2014, and those shipped to distributors for restaurant use in Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri and Ohio, are all part of the recalled cases. The FSIS informed the public there was no distribution of the products the Department of Defense, the National School Lunch Program, or catalog/internet sales. The full list of products can be found on the FSIS website.
The E. coli O157:H7 cases were brought to the attention of the FSIS on May 12 after a potential link was found between the ground beef products from the Michigan company, and the dangerous illness. The epidemiological and traceback investigations of the 11 case-patients who fell ill have onset dates ranging from April 22, 2014 to May 2, 2014. At least three of the eleven patients were hospitalized, the Detrioit Free Press reported, although all were expected to fully recover.
The potentially fatal bacterium, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, can cause dehydration, bloody diarrhea, and abdominal cramps for an average of three to four days after exposure to the organism. Most patients recover within the week, but some may develop a hemolytic uremic syndrome — a type of kidney failure. Symptoms include easy bruising, paleness, and decrease in urine output. Young persons, seniors, and those with a weakened immune system are most susceptible.
FSIS advises consumers to only consume ground beef that has been cooked to a temperature of 160° F. This recommendation helps to confirm that the meat is cooked to a high enough temperature to kill harmful bacteria. This helps consumers avoid foodborne illness.
Consumers who have questions about the recall should contact Wolverine Packing Company at 262-563-5118 for details. Additional information can be found at nationalbeef.com. Those with food safety questions are asked to contact "Ask Karen," the FSIS virtual representative available 24 hours a day at AskKaren.gov. The toll-free USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) is available in English and Spanish and can be reached from l0 am to 4 pm ET Monday through Friday.