FDA High Risk: E.coli in Beef. Not So Swift

Articles
June 30, 2009

FDA High Risk: E.coli in Beef.  Not So Swift

With Fourth of July just around the corner and the excitement over fireworks and firing up the grill ensuing, SURPRISE, the FDA has reissued warnings that JBS Swift Beef Company of Greeley, Colorado is voluntarily expanding its June 24th recall to include 380,000 pounds (!) of assorted beef products. The June 24th recall resulted from the suspected beef contamination with E.coli 0157:H7, due to possible related illnesses in multiple states. Specifically the safety of JBS beef primals produced on April 21 has been reviewed and cannot be assured. The major problem here is that JBS supplies both intact cuts of beef to be used as steaks and other beef products that will undergo further processing when they reach their national or international destination. The latter is of major concern due to the repackaging of further processed recalled products- resulting in difficulties in tracing these items as they do not bear their original stamps...

With Fourth of July just around the corner and the excitement over fireworks and firing up the grill ensuing, SURPRISE, the FDA has reissued warnings that JBS Swift Beef Company of Greeley, Colorado is voluntarily expanding its June 24th recall to include 380,000 pounds (!) of assorted beef products. The June 24th recall resulted from the suspected beef contamination with E.coli 0157:H7, due to possible related illnesses in multiple states. Specifically the safety of JBS beef primals produced on April 21 has been reviewed and cannot be assured.

The major problem here is that JBS supplies both intact cuts of beef to be used as steaks and other beef products that will undergo further processing when they reach their national or international destination. The latter is of major concern due to the repackaging of further processed recalled products- resulting in difficulties in tracing these items as they do not bear their original stamps.

Got Beef? Check it! The recalled products have the stamp, "EST. 969" inside the USDA mark of inspection as well as the identifying package date of "042109" and a time stamp ranging from "0618" to "1130." If you are concerned about further processed products (e.g. ground beef), contact the establishment where you purchased the meat product. If you can not get definite information or have any doubts- Dump it! Recalled products include, intact cuts of beef, primals, subprimals, or boxed beef- all typically used for steaks or roasts.

But again be warned, ground beef, non-intact and trim products are of highest risk according to the FDA, and are especially dangerous for the very young, seniors and those with weakened immune systems.

E.coli 0157 is a potentially deadly bacteria that can cause bloody diarrhea, high fever, vomiting/nausea, dehydration, and in the most severe cases, kidney failure.

E.coli Infection
• Symptoms start off mild and worsen after several days but usually clear up within 5–7 days
• The “incubation period,” or the time it takes after consuming the bacteria and feeling sick is usually 3-4 days, but can range from 1 to 10 days.
• If you suspect E.coli, continue to drink fluids as to prevent dehydration. Do not take antidiarrheal medicines or antibiotics as both can worsen the condition.
• In order to track and help improve our food safety and public health system, it is important, if you suspect an E.coli infection, that you see a health care professional and are properly tested (stool sample) and diagnosed.

Food Safety & Raw Meat
• Always cook meats thoroughly- Make sure to follow advised cooking instructions on food packages and labels. CDC recommends cooking ground meat to at least 160ºF.
• Use separate cutting boards, knives and utensils for raw or uncooked foods- make sure to wash countertops and hands with hot soapy water after handling raw meats.
• Chill perishable foods promptly, be sure your refrigerator is set at 40ºF or below and your freezer at 0ºF.
• Always wash your hands after using the bathroom, and before preparing or eating food.

Visit the USDA website for further information