Nearly 23,000 pounds of ground beef have been recalled over potential E. coli contamination, health officials announced Tuesday.
National Beef Packing Co. of Liberal, Kan. shipped approximately 22,737 pounds of ground beef to various stores and institutions in Tennessee, Kansas, Mississippi, Illinois, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Missouri, Arkansas and Arizona, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS).
The strain of E. coli, called E. coli O157:H7, was discovered through routine testing, and an investigation revealed the company was the sole supplier of the products linked to the contamination.
The following products are being recalled:
- 10 lb. packages of "National Beef" 80/20 Coarse Ground Chuck, package code "0481."
- 10 lb. packages of "National Beef" 81/19 Coarse Ground Beef, package code "0421."
- 10 lb. packages of "National Beef" 80/20 Fine Ground Chuck, package code "0484."
All these products have a "USE BY/SELL BY DATE" of June 14, 2013, and bear the number "EST. 208A" inside the USDA mark of inspection. The products were produced on May 25, 2013, and officials are concerned that some product may remain in shoppers' freezers.
E. coli O157:H7 is known as a "Shiga-toxin producing" strain of Escherichia coli, which are a large, diverse group of bacteria. Most strains of E. coli are harmless, but this strain in particular, which is often a culprit in foodborne illness outbreaks, may lead to severe stomach cramps, diarrhea (often bloody) and vomiting, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Most people get better within a week, but some infections can be more dangerous and lead to a life-threatening type of kidney failure called hemolytic-uremic syndrome (HUS). HUS symptoms include fever, abdominal pain, pale skin tone, fatigue, irritability and small, unexplained bruises or bleeding from the nose and mouth. Persons who experience these symptoms should seek emergency medical care immediately.
E. coli O157 is often spread through animal or human fecal contamination on food products. There have been no reports of illnesses associated with this recall.
To reduce risk, the FSIS encourages people to cook their raw beef -- be it fresh or frozen -- to 160 degrees Fahrenheit, as confirmed with a food thermometer. That is the temperature harmful bacteria is killed in ground beef.
Consumers with questions should contact the company at 877-857-4143 for details about the recall and the return and reimbursement policy.