So far the recall only focuses on the Southeast region of the United States, focusing on products sold mainly in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, South Carolina and Tennessee. The ground beef was supplied by National Beef Packaging Co. of Dodge City, Kan. and was sold in Winn-Dixie, Publix and Kroger grocery stores.
The USDA says that the tainted beef may be contaminated with E. coli 0157:H7 bacteria, a particularly troubling strain of E. coli. This strain of E. coli can cause bloody diarrhea, dehydration and, in the most severe cases, kidney failure. As with any foodborne illness, the very young, seniors and persons with weak immune systems are the most susceptible, according to the USDA.
While it all sounds pretty terrible, there is some good news. According to the USDA, there have been no reports of sickness from the tainted ground beef. Also, if you properly handle and cook ground beef, you can severely reduce your risk of food borne illness. Below are some tips to stay safe from the USDA.
- Wash hands with warm, soapy water for at least 20 seconds before and after handling raw meat and poultry. Wash cutting boards, dishes and utensils with hot, soapy water. Immediately clean spills.
- Keep raw meat, fish and poultry away from other food that will not be cooked.
- Only eat ground beef or ground-beef patties that have been cooked to a safe internal temperature of 160° F, whether prepared from fresh or frozen raw meat products.
- Color is NOT a reliable indicator that ground beef or ground beef patties have been cooked to a temperature high enough to kill harmful bacteria such as E. coli O157:H7.
- The only way to be sure ground beef is cooked to a high enough temperature to kill harmful bacteria is to use a thermometer to measure the internal temperature.
- Refrigerate raw meat and poultry within two hours after purchase or one hour if temperatures exceed 90° F. Refrigerate cooked meat and poultry within two hours after cooking.
If you suspect that you have tainted ground beef, return it to the store you bought it at for a full refund. Safe eating, everyone!