Can you visualize 6.5 million pounds of beef? How many 18-wheeler trailers do you think that might be? That is a lot of beef! Here is what you need to know about the Beef Salmonella Food Poisoning Outbreak, especially for those in Colorado.
More specifically, around 6,500,966 pounds of raw, non-intact beef products – a fancy way of saying cut up or ground. That is how large the beef recall has grown in response to a multi-state outbreak linked to beef products according to the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) in a statement today. JBS Tolleson, a large supplier that packages beef products under several different brand names, is indicated as the probable source for this outbreak.
These recalled products could be packaged under several nationwide brand names, so look closely.
This recall was a result of a multi-state outbreak investigation that lead investigators to this Tolleson, Arizona meat processor. A total of 57 cases across 16 states have been linked with the same strain of Salmonella Newport. The case counts by state are:
People began getting sick on August 5, 2018 and the last date of illness onset currently linked to this outbreak occurred on September 6, 2018 though this number could change.
There is a lag between diagnosis and reporting to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), so other cases could become known. Beef, being a product people often freeze for later use, could hang around in people’s freezers for quite some time and thus extend exposure time and risk.
How the Investigation Linked to Beef
People began reporting illness that began on August 5, 2018. Once screening diagnosis indicated Salmonella was the cause of illness, additional testing is performed to get a better idea of what type of Salmonella they were looking at. Additional testing indicated that Salmonella Newport was the specific strain in question and additional genetic analysis was performed to present a DNA fingerprint to PulseNet (a database used to link foodborne illness outbreaks).
Soon cases began to trickle in. Patient interviews are conducted. Questions like, “Where have you eaten in the last week before becoming ill? Where have you shopped for food in the last week before becoming ill? Is there anyone who is sick at home that wasn’t sick enough to receive medical treatment that could be related to what you have eaten?”
By September 5, 2018 FSIS was notified that some of the products that FSIS regulates (beef products) could be linked to patient samples with Salmonella Newport illness. This is now a joint investigation between local and state health departments, CDC and FSIS. Everyone is working together to find out the source of the outbreak so that a food product or source can be identified. The faster this happens, the faster a recall can be initiated – which helps to reduce the continued incidence of illness.
The first major breakthrough happened on September 19, 2018, when the first store receipt was linked to ground beef products. As of the last FSIS update, 8 case patient receipts or shopper card numbers have been used in product traceback investigations. This traceback evidence has linked JBS as the common supplier of the ground beef products that could be responsible for outbreak patient illness.
In response to this new information, a whopping 6.5 million pounds of “non-intact” beef products were recalled. Affected products were packaged on various dates from July 26, 2018 to September 7, 2018. The products bear a USDA establishment number of EST. 267 that can be found inside the USDA mark of inspection.
Specific product lot and UPC information can be found at the following link: https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/wcm/connect/6ae70f90-0f59-4006-a665-4d10d05156a0/RC-085-2018-Products-List.pdf?MOD=AJPERES But beware. It is a fine print document with 30 pages. FSIS indicates that if you have any of the recalled product in your home you should not consume it. It should be either thrown away or returned to the place of purchase. Personally, if I have any of the brands indicated in the recall still in my fridge or freezer, it is going in the trash. Better safe than infected.
The investigation is ongoing. FSIS is continuing to work with local and state health departments and the CDC and will post additional information as it becomes available. MakeFoodSafe.com will be there along the way to make sure you have the most up to date information to make informed decisions in your kitchen for your family.
Eating food that is contaminated with Salmonella can cause the illness salmonellosis. This is one of the most common bacterial foodborne illnesses. In fact, the CDC estimates Salmonella is responsible for about 1.2 million illnesses each year. This accounts for 23,000 hospitalizations and around 450 deaths every year. The United States accounts for 1.1 million of those cases, with about 1 million being linked to a food source.
Salmonella Newport is just one type of Salmonella strain that can infect humans and animals. Most normally healthy individuals can recover without medical attention, though some groups may be at higher risk for a more severe illness. Older adults (generally over 65), infants and children (up to 5 years old), and those with a compromised immune system (whether due to disease, illness, or medications) are in this category.
Typical symptoms include diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever. Symptoms often begin within 12 to 72 hours of consuming the contaminated product. Illness generally last between 4 to 7 days. In some cases, diarrhea might be so severe that the patient may need to be hospitalized due to dehydration.
Some may develop additional symptoms/illness that presents just as gastrointestinal symptoms begin to subside. This is known as reactive arthritis, which causes pain in the joints. This reactive arthritis can last for months or even years, developing into chronic arthritis. Eye irritation and painful urination are additional symptoms those with reactive arthritis might experience.
If you feel that you have consumed contaminated product, you are doing your community a service by being tested. While your symptoms may be mild and not require medical attention, your patient interview may help to bring traceback evidence that can help to identify a source faster, minimizing additional illnesses in the outbreak.
If you believe you have developed a Salmonella infection, we want you to know that a Salmonella Lawyer at the Lange Law Firm, PLLC is currently investigating this matter and offering free legal consultations. Our lawyer, Jory Lange became a lawyer to help make our communities and families safer.
If you or a loved one have become ill with Salmonella after eating ground beef products, you can call 833.330.3663 for a free consultation or complete the form here.
By: Heather Van Tassell, Contributing Writer (Non-Lawyer)