Federal health investigators indicate that an ongoing E. coli outbreak that has sickened more than 150 people in ten different states appears to be caused by tainted ground beef, resulting in a recall of more than 110,000 pounds of meat.
The U.S. Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) announced a K2D Foods ground beef recall on April 23, after random sample testing determined the presence of E. coli O103 with a very similar strain of infection found in those sickened by an ongoing multi-state outbreak.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) first became aware of the outbreak in early March, when Kentucky and Georgia state health officials reported several E. coli O103 cases. The CDC opened an official investigation into the outbreak on March 28, stating that, based on preliminary data, the outbreak was likely linked to raw ground beef products.
Since the E. coli investigation was opened, federal and state officials have become aware of at least 156 cases of individuals falling ill with E. coli infection across Florida (3), Georgia (33), Illinois (1), Indiana (1), Kentucky (65), Minnesota (1), Mississippi (1), Ohio (8), Tennessee (41) and Virginia (2).
Traceback investigations performed by local and federal health officials discovered that 92 of 114 sickened individuals they interviewed reported eating ground beef from a restaurant or local grocery store within the week before they got sick.
After collecting unopened and intact raw ground beef products from a restaurant where multiple case-patients reporting dining, officials confirmed the products tested positive for E. coli O103.
The ground beef products that tested positive for the outbreak strain of E. coli were linked to K2D Foods of Carrolton, Georgia.
The recall includes 113,424 pounds of Ground Beef Puck products that were packaged in two 24-pound vacuum-packed cardboard boxes marked with “Use Thru” dates of April 14, 17, 20, 23, 28 and 30 of 2019. The recalled products bear establishment number “EST. 51308”.
K2D Food announced these recalled ground beef products were shipped to distributors in Port Orange, Florida and Norcross, Georgia where they were distributed to customers across various states.
FSIS officials warn the products may still be in refrigerators or freezers of restaurants at this time. Any remaining products should be either discarded or returned to their place of purchase.
E. coli is a foodborne bacteria that causes mild to severe diarrhea and abdominal cramps, bloody stools, and sometimes minor fevers lasting between five and 10 days. For individuals like young children, the sick and the elderly, the consequences may be more severe due to weakened immune systems, potentially resulting in the infection causing a serious condition known as Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS), which may lead to kidney failure or even death.
Customers with additional questions or concerns regarding the recall are encouraged to contact K2D Foods Customer Service Director, Ashley Barnes, at 970-313-4400.