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David B’s Custom Meats Ground Beef Linked to Non-O157 Ecoli Outbreak?

Posted in E. coli,Our Blog,Outbreaks & Recalls on June 14, 2020

The Illinois Department of Agriculture issued a public health alert this week citing ground beef from a Macoupin County, Illinois establishment – David B’s Custom Meats of Carlinville IL – is potentially linked to a Non-O157 STEC Ecoli illness. It is likely that we have a David B’s Custom Meats Ground Beef Ecoli Outbreak on our hands here.

The Public Health Alert 

According to the press release, “due to an undetermined amount of ground beef product prepared under custom exemption that may be contaminated with NON-O157 Shiga tox-prd E.Coli (STEC), a bacteria commonly known as “e coli”. That product was prepared at a Type II Establishment (custom exempt), David B’s Custom Meats, located in Carlinville IL, in Macoupin County at the beginning of 2020 to current. Custom exempt meat products are not inspected and cannot be offered for sale; because of this, a recall of the affected product was not requested.”

Even though a recall has not been announced, the agency still has concerns that some of the affected product may be in consumers’ freezers. Freezing does not kill E. coli. The ground beef has been sold since the beginning if this year and was still on sale as of yesterday.

The agency recommends that if any consumer still has the affected products, they do not eat them. Wash and sanitize the places where the recalled products were stored. Restaurants and retailers should not serve or sell these affected products. If they aren’t sure, they should check with the supplier to determine if their ground beef product is part of this notice.

David B’s Custom Meats Ground Beef Ecoli Outbreak – Figuring Out the Link 

According to the press release, “[t]he problem was discovered when a resident of Macoupin County notified local public health officials about sickness after consuming ground beef. The sample collected from the remaining product tested positive for presence of NON-O157 Shiga tox-producing E.coli.”

But this is difficult because identification of non-O157 STEC is much more complex. Clinical labs are not able to identify non-O157 STEC. They generally test stool samples for presence of shiga toxins and then send the positive sample to public health laboratories to check for the serotype of non-O157 STEC. In general, it is believed that most of the non-O157 STEC don’t cause as severe complications as O157 STEC. But sometimes they can. Since not much is known about these serotypes, every outbreak becomes a serious health alert for the public.

About Non-O157 STEC Ecoli

The exact strain of E. coli involved in this cases has not been identified – or rather – commented on publicly. Even it isn’t Ecoli O157, it can still be dangerous.

“The most commonly identified STEC infections in North America are E. coli O157:H7 (often shortened to E. coli O157 or even just O157). When you hear news reports about outbreaks of E. coli infections, they are usually talking about E. coli O157.”

However, there are other non-O157 STEC forms of E. coli as well, including E. coli O26, E coli O103, E. coli O111, E. coli O121, E. coli O45, and E. coli O145. In the past, these strains were difficult to find, as there was little research done on them. According to a recent study by L. H. Gould, this is shifting because “Non-O157 STEC infections are being recognized with greater frequency because of changing laboratory practices.”

Just recently, the USDA announced that it is expanding its testing strategies to include more non-O157 STEC Ecoli variants. According to the USDA’s June 4, 2020 announcement,

“The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is announcing plans to expand its routine verification testing for six Shiga toxin- producing Escherichia coli (non-O157 STEC; O26, O45, O103, O111, O121, or O145) that are adulterants, in addition to the adulterant Escherichia coli (E. coli) O157:H7, to ground beef, bench trim, and raw ground beef components other than raw beef manufacturing trimmings (i.e., head meat, cheek meat, weasand (esophagus) meat, product from advanced meat recovery (AMR) systems, partially defatted chopped beef and partially defatted beef fatty tissue, low temperature rendered lean finely textured beef, and heart meat)(hereafter “other raw ground beef components”) for samples collected at official establishments. STEC includes non-O157 STEC; O26, O45, O103, O111, O121, or O145, that are adulterants, and E. coli O157:H7. Currently, FSIS tests only its beef manufacturing trimmings samples for these six non-O157 STEC and E. coli O157:H7; all other aforementioned raw beef products are presently tested for E. coli O157:H7 only. FSIS also intends to test for these non-O157 STEC in ground beef samples that it collects at retail stores and in applicable samples it collects of imported raw beef products. FSIS is requesting comments on the proposed sampling and testing of ground beef, bench trim, and other raw ground beef components. FSIS will announce the date it will implement the new testing in a subsequent Federal Register notice.”

How Do I Know if I Have Ecoli?

Symptoms of Non-O157 STEC Ecoli infections may vary from person to person in severity with those in higher risk demographics such as the very young, the very old, and those with a compromised immune system at highest risk of infection and complication.

Onset often occurs somewhere around 3 to 4 days after consuming contaminated food but can occur anywhere from 1 to 10 days after exposure.  You can also become sick from coming in contact with contaminated foods or food surfaces without washing your hands or consuming raw or undercooked beef products.  Food sanitation and cooking to an appropriate internal temperature of 160 ⁰F to 165 ⁰F for ground beef and ground beef containing casseroles respectively.

Symptoms generally last around 5 to 7 days with some people experiencing a longer illness.  The most common symptoms include severe stomach cramps, diarrhea that is often bloody, and vomiting.

HUS – A Serious and Potential Complication of O157 AND Non-O157 STEC Ecoli Infections

A serious and life-threatening complication known as HUS that results in kidney failure may occur.  In fact, 5 to 10% of those diagnosed will fall victim to this complication.  HUS symptoms often develop about a week after initial symptoms and can coincide with improvement in the diarrheal symptom.  Look for decreased urination, paleness in the cheeks and lower eyelids, and feeling very tired.  While most people will recover from HUS after treatment, it is important for HUS patients to be hospitalized right away to avoid complete kidney failure or death.

How The Lange Law Firm Can Help

Our mission is to help families who have been harmed by contaminated food or water.  When corporations cause Ecoli food poisoning outbreaks, we use the law to hold them accountable.  The Lange Law Firm is one of the only law firms in the nation focused on representing families in food poisoning lawsuits.

If you got sick from eating ground beef contaminated with Ecoli and are interested in making a legal claim for compensation, we can help. We want you to know that an E coli 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. Anyone who was infected with E coli contaminated meats sold by David B’s Custom Meats may be entitled to compensation for their injuries.  To learn more about the David B’s Custom Meats Ground Beef Ecoli Outbreak or making an E coli food poisoning claim, please contact the Lange Law Firm, PLLC by phone or contact us online.

By: Candess Zona-Mendola