The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced last week that Aurora Packing Company, Inc. has issued a beef recall of 62,112 pounds of products from the market. The FSIS was able to trace a strain of E. coli back to Aurora Packing Company after several random samples of beef available for purchase tested positive for contamination.
Beef Recall Initiated after Discovery of Dangerous Strain of E. coli
The Illinois-based packing company is recalling dozens of different types of raw beef products due to the threat of contamination from the most dangerous strain of this type of bacteria: E. coli O157:H7.
There are many strains of E. coli that can cause foodborne illness. Some strains of the bacteria can result in only minor sickness. Some won’t even cause diarrhea. On the other hand, some strains of E. coli are potentially deadly. E. coli O157:H is a strain that can be fatal because it produces Shiga toxin in the body. This powerful toxin damages the lining of the small intestine.
There are other types of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC), but E. coli O157:H7 causes the most severe symptoms and complications. The symptoms of E. coli O157:H7 infection can include:
- Bloody diarrhea. Blood in the stool is characteristic of this strain of E. coli because the Shiga toxin breaks down the lining of the small intestine.
- Stomach cramping
- Abdominal tenderness and pain
- Nausea and vomiting in some cases
The most disconcerting complication associated with E. coli O157:H7, as with all other STEC bacteria, is hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) in which the Shiga toxin destroys red blood cells and can cause kidney failure. Consequently, HUS can be fatal or can cause a lifetime of dependence on kidney dialysis, blood transfusions, and professional nursing care.
Perhaps the most distressing fact about E. coli O157:H7 is that only a small amount of the bacteria can cause an infection and potentially life-threatening consequences. This is unlike many other disease-causing bacteria. In practice, this means that consumers can contract this infection from eating beef that is only slightly undercooked, eating only one leaf of contaminated lettuce, or gulping down a single mouthful of contaminated pool water.
Check Your Freezers for Contaminated Beef
The FSIS is reasonably concerned that consumers or institutions may have the products included in this beef recall in their freezers. That is because Aurora Packing Company processed the products on April 19, 2019. The list of products included in this beef recall is far too long to include here. It includes dozens of different cuts of meat distributed to Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.
Cuts of all different descriptions – ground beef to ribeyes to brisket – are subject to this beef recall. Contaminated products were sent to distribution centers nationwide.
Consumers can identify the potentially deadly beef products by looking for the establishment number on the label, which will read “EST. 788” inside the USDA mark of inspection. All 62,112 pounds of contaminated meat will have this mark.
If you do find these products in your home or on grocery store shelves, do not consume them. Likewise, if you have already purchased them, return them to the place of purchase or simply throw them away.
How This Beef Recall Differs From The E. Coli Outbreak Sweeping the Nation
Sharp-eyed consumers who follow bad food news may be wondering if the beef recalled by Aurora Packing Company is involved in the multi-state outbreak of E. coli linked to ground beef. Except that the bacteria in both beef products are STEC, the outbreaks are unrelated.
This newest beef recall has not produced any reports of adverse events such as foodborne illness, hospitalizations, or other injury. This is in sharp contrast to the outbreak relating only to ground beef which still has no determined point of origin and continues to make people sick.
This beef recall is in response to the presence of the most dangerous strain of E. coli O157:H7, while the more far-reaching recalls are due to strain O103.
Tips for Avoiding E. coli Infection
For reasons no one understands, this is E. coli season. More cases of foodborne illness occur from June to September than at any other time of the year. Between the ground beef recall and this new beef recall, it can be tempting to swear off eating beef for the summer.
However, safe food handling and preparation can prevent almost every case of E. coli infection. Whether you prepare fresh or frozen meat products, guidelines for food safety are the same. To avoid illness, only eat beef that has been cooked to an internal temperature of 165° F. It is not possible to determine whether meat is safe to eat by visual inspection only. Therefore, always use a food thermometer to check for safe temperatures every time you cook beef.
Ground beef is especially prone to spreading E. coli bacteria because a single package of ground beef contains meat from many different individual animals, which increases the risk that one of the carcasses is contaminated from the bacteria in the animals intestines
E. Coli Can be Spread from Person to Person
Safe food handling and preparation is not the final word in preventing the spread of E. coli because the bacteria can travel easily from person to person. Ineffective hand-washing is the usual culprit of interpersonal contagion. Families with young children are likely to spread it among themselves. It is also possible for children to contract E. coli from barnyard animals they encounter at county fairs, farms, or petting zoos.
What to Do About E. Coli Infection
If you ate beef products three or four days ago and have since developed symptoms of E. coli O157:H7, contact your doctor right away. This strain of E. coli can be serious if it causes severe dehydration or hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). Contact your doctor if these symptoms persist.
Likewise, anyone who experiences the symptoms of HUS should seek emergency medical attention immediately. Those symptoms occur as the symptoms of foodborne illness begin to wane. HUS may present the following symptoms:
- Easy bruising
- Pallor, or pale, gray skin
- Decreased urine output
These symptoms should be taken seriously. Talk to your doctor at the first sign of any such symptoms.
Get Answers from a Beef Recall Attorney
If you have developed a foodborne illness after eating products included in a beef recall, contact Bad Food Recall. Get answers to your recall questions by speaking with a beef recall attorney. As a consumer, you certainly have legal rights, and you may be entitled to compensation for injuries caused by a contaminated product.
To find out more, call us to schedule a free consultation. Call toll free at 1-877-534-5750, or submit our contact form.