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FDA Confirms Retailers in Cargill Beef Outbreak

Posted in E. coli,Outbreaks & Recalls on September 29, 2018

   The United States’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) alerted consumers that a beef product recall was “officially over.” The beef product had been made, packaged and shipped from Cargill Meat Solutions in Fort Morgan, Colorado.

     But consumers should still be checking their freezers for any Cargill Meat Solutions’ ground beef products packaged on June 21, 2018. The beef was sold in 3lb, 10lb, and 20lb chubs. The ground beef shipped from the Colorado Cargill plant marked as establishment number “EST.86R”.

USDA Food Safety Inspection Orders Class I Recall –

     This recalled beef product could contain Shiga toxin – producing E coli (determined to be Escherichia coli 026). On September 19, 2018 Cargill recalled over 132,000 pounds of ground beef products made from the chuck portion of cattle carcasses according to the United States Department of Agriculture Food Safety Inspection Service (USDA-FSIS).

     The CDC alert stated, restaurants and retailers should not serve or sell recalled ground beef and all freezers and storage units need to be checked for remaining beef products that may have been over-looked.

Retailers Identified

The FSIS issued a statement this week that they believe the infected products were shipped nationwide to the following retailers:

  • Aldi Stores: Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Wisconsin
  • FoodMaxx Stores: California
  • Meijer: Nationwide
  • Pak N Save Stores: California
  • Safeway/Albertson’s: Nationwide
  • Sam’s Club: Nationwide
  • Target: Nationwide
  • Vons Stores: California

CDC Confirms 18 Cases of E. coli Nationwide –

     Eighteen cases of E. coli contaminated beef have sickened 18 people in four states – 15 reported cases in Florida and one case each in Colorado, Tennessee, and Massachusetts. One of the cases in Florida resulted in death.

    The CDC reported all those affected started experiencing symptoms between July 5, 2018 through July 25, 2018. Six people were hospitalized, and one hospitalized person developed Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS), a type of kidney failure.

     Those 18 cases identified ages ranged from one-year to 75 years-old with a medium age of 16 of which sixty percent were male.

     Cargill officials released a statement also on September 20, 2018 concerning the September 19, 2018 recall. The Cargill statement asked consumers to understand how to identify and safely dispose of any questionable ground beef. The company said all contaminated beef product had been pulled from supermarket shelves, but consumers still could have beef products in their homes’ freezers.

     The CDC report also stated the E. coli diagnoses are detected through stool samples and the fact that antibiotics are not recommended for patients suspected to be suffering from E. coli infections. In E. coli cases ordering antibiotics for patients may increase their risk of developing the serious kidney failure – HUS (hemolytic uremic syndrome).

Investigation of Beef Recall Uses DNA Fingerprinting –

     Health investigators from the CDC used the PulseNet system to identify E. coli specific to this outbreak strain of the bacteria. PulseNet is a national subtyping network using DNA fingerprinting of E. coli by food regulatory and public health agency laboratories managed by the CDC.

     These DNA fingerprints go into a national data base to aid in identifying possible outbreaks. Whole genome sequencing (WGS) adds more detail to the DNA fingerprint and allows for the CDC to find the common source of E. coli infections.

     Through this kind of epidemic reasoning, laboratory research and tracing back the steps of the patients affected, the CDC officials obtained enough evidence that indicated the ground beef from the Cargill Meat Solutions plant in Colorado was the source.

     Fourteen patients were also interviewed about the food they had eaten and other things they had been exposed to in the week prior to when they became sick.  All fourteen patients reported eating ground beef purchased from grocery stores.

     Investigations by the USDA-FSIS were able to identify the Cargill Colorado plant as being the source of contamination.

     Further investigation cited left over ground beef from one Florida patient’s home was tested by the CDC using the WGS system. The WGS data proved the left-over ground beef had the same E. coli O26 strain and was genetically related to the E. coli O26 strain isolated from the affected patients.

     The Cargill statement told consumers the company was working with the USDA. And that Cargill uses every effort, both internally and externally, to ensure food safety at the processing plant in Fort Morgan and all the Cargill facilities.

Symptoms of E. coli  Are Mild to Severe to Deadly –

     Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) symptoms can differ in people. Those affected can experience severe stomach cramps, diarrhea containing blood, vomiting, and fever, which is usually less than 101˚F/38.5˚C.

     Sickened people normally get better within 5 to 7 days. Some infections can be very mild and other cases can be very severe, even life-threatening.

     Most people with a STEC infection will start feeling sick 3 to 4 days after eating or drinking a food source contaminated with the E. coli bacteria, and some people have become sick up to 10 days after contact.

     The CDC recommends anyone who has diarrhea for more than 3 days along with fever, bloody stools, severe vomiting that doesn’t allow you to keep liquids down and very little urination should immediately contact a physician.

     People should also be aware that about 5 to 10% of people who have a STEC infection diagnosis can develop the possible life-threatening hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS).

     The CDC warns HUS can develop about 7 days after the first symptoms appear and the diarrhea is subsiding. HUS symptoms include lessened regularity of urination, feeling extremely tired, and the loss of pink color in cheeks and inside the lower eyelids.

     The danger for people with HUS, if they are not hospitalized and are recovering at home, is kidneys stop working and other serious health problems can begin to occur. Generally, people with HUS recover within a few weeks. But on a serious note, people have been known to suffer permanent damage to the body and can die from HUS.

By: Cindy Lockstone, Contributing Writer (Non-Lawyer)