The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSAS) has announced that a beef processing company is recalling 129,000
pounds of beef products from 15 American states because of suspected contamination by the potentially deadly foodborne bacterium E coli O157:H7.
The Michigan Department of Community Health identified the possible contamination when it investigated a recent spate of illness due to E coli O157:H7.
The beef products were made by David Creek Meats based in Kalamazoo, Michigan, between 1st March and 30th April this year for Gordon Food Service. They were despatched to distribution centres in Arkansas, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
The recalled products include boxes of different weights of mechanically tenderized steak and ground beef. Each box shows a net weight declaration and the text "Manufactured for Gordon Food Service" or "Distributed by Gordon Food Service" .
Only those boxes with labels bearing the text "Est. 1947A" inside the USDA mark of inspection and the date code in the top right hand area between 060 and 120 are subject to recall.
The full list of products affected runs to several pages and can be viewed on a USDA FSIS website document titled Recall Release (reference number 023-2007, PDF reader required)..
According to a notice on the USDA website, consumers are advised to return any recalled products to the point of purchase and also take the following precations when preparing any ground beef for eating:
- You should only eat ground beef that has been cooked to a minimum of 160 degrees Fahrenheit (71 degrees Celsius or Centigrade).
- If you cook the ground beef patty to this temperature throughout, it can be safe and juicy, regardless of its colour.
- The only way to tell for sure that the right temperature has been reached is to use an accurate food thermometer.
- Do not rely on meat colour to tell you if the beef patty has been cooked at a temperature that is high enough to kill harmful bacteria like E Coli O157:H7.
- If you eat a pink or red ground beef patty without first making sure that it was cooked to at least 160 deg F, you are putting yourself at risk of contracting a foodborne illness.
Steaks are not usually considered a risky source of E. coli O157:H7. But in this case, the steak products being recalled were mechanically tenderized and bacteria may have been transferred from the surface to the inside of the meat.
Mechanically tenderized beef products or those injected with a marinade or solution should be cooked at a higher temperature to achieve microbiological safety than steaks that are not mechanically tenderized. Therefore, under no circumstances should mechanically tenderized beef products be served or eaten "rare".
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates there are 76 million cases of foodborne disease in the US every year.
In most cases the symptoms are mild and only last a couple of days. But some cases are more serious, with some 325,000 hospitalizations and 5,000 deaths due to foodborne illnesses occurring in the US each year.
USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service.
Written by: Catharine Paddock
Writer: Medical News Today