There are few details this morning about a massive recall of some 390 tons of ground beef produced and distributed in California. The problem – potentially deadly E. coli bacterium.
The Department of Agriculture says the beef was produced by Huntington Meat Packing Inc. of Montebello, California and shipped throughout the state from January 5 to January 15.
A regular safety check found the contamination problem.
Additional problems were found with products shipped as long ago as February through May, 2008.
The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), under the U.S. Department of Agriculture, reports this is a Class I recall, presenting the highest potential for danger to human health.
E. coli contamination comes from the feces of animals and can be introduced at any point of processing. Symptoms include cramps and diarrhea, and vomiting and can last anywhere from two to eight days.
E. coli 0157:H7 bacteria, a particularly lethal form, can cause a severe infection with life-threatening complications. After eating contaminated Nestles Toll House Cookie dough last year that was contaminated, 10 people developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS).
Symptoms of HUS include decreased frequency of urination, feeling very tired, and losing pink color in cheeks and inside the lower eyelids. Persons with HUS should be hospitalized because their kidneys may stop working and they may develop other serious problems.
There have been no reports of illness related to this E. coli recall.
Consumers Can Protect Thelmselves
Color is not a reliable test that ground beef has been adequately cooked. A meat thermometer is the only sure way to be sure ground beef is cooked to a high enough temperature to kill harmful bacteria.
Refrigerate raw meat and poultry within two hours after purchase or one hour if temperatures exceed 90° F. Consumers are advised to refrigerate cooked meat and poultry within two hours after cooking.
FSIS advises cooks to wash their hands with warm, soapy water for at least 20 seconds before and after handling raw meat and poultry and wash cutting boards and utelsils well.
E. coli was recently linked to a multistate outbreak of Nestle toll House cookie dough. #