July 23, 2012 — Cargill Meat Solutions is voluntarily recalling nearly 30,000 pounds of fresh ground beef after the products sickened at least 33 people with Salmonella food poisoning. The victims were located in seven states in the northeastern United States. Although the use-by date has expired on most of the fresh products, it is possible that consumers still have contaminated ground beef in their freezers. Because Cargill is a wholesaler distributor of ground beef, the contaminated beef is an ingredient in many different brand-name products. Many of the sickened customers purchased the ground beef at Hannaford supermarket stores in MA, ME, NH, NY and VT.
Cargill sold the contaminated ground beef in 14-pound chub packages, which were sold in 42-pound boxes containing three chubs. Each chub was labeled “Grnd Beef Fine 85/15,” marked with the establishment number “EST. 9400” which is located inside the USDA inspection mark. Cargill manufactured the contaminated products on May 25, 2012, and they were sold wholesale to several distribution centers in Connecticut, Maine, and New York. These distributors broke down the 14-pound chub products into smaller, consumer-sized ground beef products that were sold under various retail names.
Because Cargill is a wholesaler, it is possible that the contaminated ground beef is an ingredient in many different retail brand-name ground beef products. Many of the products were sold by Hannaford supermarkets, but there may be other distributors.
At least 33 cases of salmonella food poisoning have been linked to the contaminated ground beef. The illnesses occurred in seven states (MA, ME, NH, NY, RI, VA, VT). Several health departments have coordinated to determine the source of the outbreak, including the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Vermont Department of Health, and New York State Department of Agriculture & Markets. These departments found that five people who became ill ate Cargill ground beef products. The patients became sick from June 6, 2012 until June 13, 2012. Two were hospitalized.
The illnesses have been caused by a strain of Salmonella known as Salmonella Enteritidis. This strain is sensitive to antibiotics, which makes it easier to treat people once they are hospitalized.
Salmonella causes salmonellosis, a type of acute gastrointestinal disease that occurs within 72 hours of ingesting the bacteria. It causes sudden diarrhea, painful abdominal cramps, fever, vomiting, nausea, chills, and a headache that can persist for 7 days. Healthy adults usually recover within a week, though normal bowel function may not return for weeks or months. Salmonellosis can be life-threatening or deadly for people who are very young or elderly, pregnant, or have a weakened immune system.
To reduce the risk of salmonella poisoning, experts recommend heating all raw beef products to an internal temperature of 160° F, which can be tested with a meat thermometer. Furthermore, consumers should take care to ensure raw beef does not cross-contaminate any other surfaces, utensils, or foods.
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