At least seven people in California have fallen ill due to E. coli food poisoning after eating ground beef, leading to the recall of one million pounds of ground beef sold in California, Texas, Oregon and Arizona.
The ground beef recall was announced on August 6 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) after it was notified by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) of a cluster of E. coli food poisoning victims who all had the exact same strain of E. coli O157:H7. So far, seven people have been confirmed as sick due to the ground beef E. coli food poisoning outbreak; six of them fell ill between April 8 and June 18, 2010, and there was one other case involving the same strain in February.
As a result of state and federal investigations into the outbreak, Valley Meat Company, of Modesto, California, is recalling one million pounds of frozen ground beef and ground beef products. All of the recalled ground beef has an establishment number of “EST. 8268” inside the USDA mark of inspection and a production code of 27509 through 01210. The recalled meat was produced between October 2, 2009 and January 12, 2010 and distributed to retailers and foodservice providers in California, Texas, Oregon, Arizona and internationally. See the FSIS announcement for the entire list of affected products.
While most of the meat has probably been consumed, the FSIS is concerned that some of it may still be frozen in consumers’ freezers. The agency urges consumers to check their freezers and discard any meat affected by the recall.
E. coli O157:H7 is one of the more common causes of food poisoning in the United States. When left untreated, it can lead to dehydration and potentially life-threatening illness. While most healthy adults recover from food poisoning caused by E. coli within a few weeks, young children and the elderly could be at risk for more severe illness. If the toxin enters the blood stream, E. coli could also lead to kidney failure known as Hemolytic-Urenia Syndrome (HUS).
This is the 12th meat recall this year, and more than doubles the amount of meat that’s been pulled from stores in 2010, to a total of 1,786,859 pounds. There have been about 1,650 cases of E. coli illness to date, which puts 2010 on track to have significantly fewer E. coli sickness cases than 2009, which had 4,253 in total.