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Boy Scout Food Poisoning Outbreak Leads to Frozen Ground Beef Recall

Over 150,000 pounds of frozen ground beef were recalled this week in a Class I recall after it was discovered that the product might be contaminated with E. coli O157:H7, which has been linked to a food poisoning outbreak at a Virginia Boy Scout camp.

S&S Foods LLC, of Azusa, California, issued a ground beef recall for 30 lb boxes of frozen meat that were sent to distribution centers in Allentown, Pennsylvania, and Milwaukee, Wisconsin, but which could have been sold in much of the United States. The recall was issued after an inspection by the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) found the product could be contaminated by E. coli O157:H7 bacteria, which could cause severe and life threatening food poisoning.

The frozen ground beef was sold for food service and institutional use, and not intended for direct retail purchase. The boxes are labeled “742798 MFST, 100% GROUND BEEF BULK, 80/20, 1LB. BRICK,” with establishment number “EST.20375” located inside the USDA mark of inspection. A case code starting with “06238” is printed on the side of the box.

Last month, a number of Boy Scouts attending a summer camp in Virginia between July 20, 2008, and July 26, 2008, fell ill after eating ground beef provided by S&S Foods LLC. The Boy Scout E Coli outbreak involved about 27 cases of confirmed food poisoning.

Testing by health officials confirmed the presence of E. coli O157:H7 in the Boy Scouts, who had been given frozen ground beef to cook over a campfire. Samples of the beef were tested for E. coli bacteria, along with samples of well and lake water. The beef samples tested positive for the same strain of bacteria found in the tests of those taken ill while the water samples tested negative.

Information has not been released about where and how the contamination took place, but health officials believe that the ground beef was contaminated before it arrived at the camp. It appears that the frozen ground beef contained the E. coli bacteria and the cooking of the meat did not kill the bacteria.

E. coli O157:H7 is a harmful bacterium that can cause severe cases of food poisoning. Symptoms include bloody diarrhea, dehydration and kidney failure, or hemolytic uremia in severe cases. Immunocompromised people, along with the very young and the elderly, are at greater risk for experiencing more severe illness from E. Coli food poisoning, including kidney failure or Hemolytic-Urenia Syndrome.

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