On Thursday, the Florida Supermarket chain Publix Super Market, Inc., sent out a voluntary recall notice. Publix Super Markets, working alongside local health departments and the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) are letting consumers know of a possible E. coli contamination issue. So far, 18 people have become sick with Escherichia coli 026. To date the source of the product is unknown but officials are working to trace that back.
This recall is a bit more targeted than most. This is a good thing. That means the information about the recall can get to the right people. Even though a recall is never a good sign, especially where people have already become sickened, by catching the outbreak early enough, lives can be saved.
Publix Super Market is recalling Ground Chuck Products. First, we need to look at the particulars. Information is key remember? Then we will take a look at what E. coli is and how it affects us. Lastly, we need to take a long look at what we can do to keep ourselves safe when it comes to the dangers of the food we eat.
Let’s get right to the particulars. The recall is for Ground Chuck meat products. I will link the list here due to the large amount of items on it and remind you to check every one.
Publix Super Markets are located in 24 counties: Brevard, Charlotte, Citrus, Collier, DeSoto, Flagler, Hernando, Highlands, Hillsborough, Indian River, Lake, Lee, Manatee, Marion, Orange, Osceola, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk, Sarasota, Seminole, St. Lucie, Sumter, and Volusia.
Publix Super Market is asking consumers if there was any product purchased to dispose of it or bring it back to the store.
Remember: Just because you did not buy Ground Chuck from these locations, make sure you double check any types of picnics, church or school gatherings, and cookouts you might attend to find out where the meat came from.
The recall is for Ground Chuck purchased between June 25 through July 31.
According to the USDA, there is concern consumers may have frozen meat purchased during this time period so be sure to check those dates as well.
Adding to the urgency, the USDA has issued a Class I recall for this outbreak. There are three classes:
Class I: This is a health hazard situation where there is a reasonable probability that the use of the product will cause serious, adverse health consequences or death.
Class II: This is a health hazard where there is a remote probability of adverse health consequences from the use of the product.
Class III: This is a situation where the use of the product will not cause adverse health consequences.
I’m not sure about you but when the USDA mentions the words “adverse health consequences or death” I am going to pay attention. You should as well.
If there is any doubt in your mind let me dispel it for you now: E. coli is nothing to scoff at. This is a dangerous bacterium that is left unchecked can lead to severe kidney failure and death. If you have any of the symptoms listed below, please seek medical help as soon as possible. For infants and the elderly this is especially dangerous as their immune systems are weaker.
The main symptoms of E. coli are:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Stomach cramps
- Bloody diarrhea
These symptoms may sound like the flu. Is it not better to be safe than sorry? Seek medical assistance for these and any symptom that is out of the norm. If there is a chance you have eaten product from this or any other recall, the chances are good you’re not dealing with just the flu.
Most cases will clear within 5 to 7 days with a regimen of fluids and rest. Doctors normally will not prescribe antibiotics for E. coli cases. There are cases however that can lead to serious complications.
Sometimes, we are powerless to stop dangerous bacteria from entering our bodies. More often than not there is plenty we can do though. According to the CDC, there are a few things to remember concerning the prevention and spread of E. coli we should all commit to memory.
Know your chances. Food poisoning affects infants, pregnant women, and the elderly more than any other demographic. If you, a friend, or family member fall into these categories it is important to pay attention to risk factors.
Wash fruits and vegetables. It is a good practice to always clean fruits and vegetables before eating or cooking with them. Even if the package states they have been washed.
Cook meat thoroughly. Follow guidelines for specific types of meats and use a thermometer when grilling out.
Avoid raw foods. Milk, unpasteurized dairy, and unpasteurized juices are full of bacteria.
Practice good hygiene. It has become my mantra around the house especially with little ones running around but washing your hands is more important than you think. After changing diapers, preparing and eating food, having contact with animals, and being around toddlers; all of these and more should be preceded by washing your hands.
We live in a fast moving world. Be it by design or just being caught up in the rush of daily life, most of us move quickly through the day not taking much time to pause. I share this belief with makefoodsafe.com: when it comes to food safety, we must slow down. Take the time to wash, prepare, and understand where our food is coming from. Take the time to get informed about outbreaks and food related issues. This information could save your life.
If you live in the above named counties and have purchased meat within the dates STOP HERE and check to see if you have any of the recalled product. Follow these guidelines in order to dispose of the product. You and your family’s safety are of the most importance here.
Never discount recalls. Health Departments issue them to keep us safe. We at makefoodsafe.com care about your safety more than anything.
By: Dwight Spencer, Contributing Writer (Non-Lawyer)