On September 15, approximately 58,281 pounds of raw ground beef were recalled due to possible E. coli contamination, per an official announcement by the USDA. A sample batch tested positive for E. coli O103 under examination by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS).
The recalled ground beef comes from American Foods Group, LLC, as Green Bay Dressed Beef, LCC. It concerns 80-lb. cases containing 10-lb. plastic tubes (chubs) of three specific products: "90050 BEEF FINE GROUND 81/19," "20473 BEEF HALAL FINE GROUND 73/27," and "20105 BEEF FINE GROUND 73/27." In layman's terms, these are all boxes of sausage-type products in casings. The batch under recall was produced on August 14, 2023. Specific item lot codes are listed on the USDA's announcement. The ground beef products were shipped to Georgia, Michigan, and Ohio. All distributors and other customers are being instructed to discard or return the products.
The most common E. coli strain is Shiga toxin-producing E. coli 0157. A lot of labs don't test for O103 (the strain found in the Green Bay Dressed Beef recall), as it's substantially harder to detect. So far, no foodborne illnesses have been reported as a result of consuming these meats. Consumers typically report feeling ill within two to eight days of consuming a STEC O103-positive food product. Any questions can be directed to the toll-free USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at (888) 674-6854. The CDC estimates that 265,000 people in the U.S. contract an STEC infection every single year.
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A Continuing Saga Of Food Safety (Or Lack Thereof)
If consumers are starting to get a little skeptical of the safety of their beef products, there's no mystery about why. A year ago, meal delivery kit service HelloFresh had a ground beef-related E. coli outbreak that made at least seven people ill. A few months before that in April 2022, over 120,000 pounds of ground beef were recalled for possible E. coli contamination by New Jersey-based Lakeside Refrigerated Services.
Perhaps part of the issue is that were's so much meat to handle. The U.S. is the top beef-producing country in the world, with beef accounting for 53.5% of all meat consumed in America as of 2022. In 2023 alone, the U.S. beef industry is projected to make $20 billion. The frequency and magnitude of severe bacterial outbreaks like these begs the question, "How can this still be happening?" Considering that a 1,2000 cow yields roughly 500 pounds of ground beef, this most recent Green Bay is the equivalent of roughly 116 cows.
So, what can omnivorous home cooks do in the meantime while they wait for regulations to tighten and outbreaks like these to stop (or at least slow down)? For starters, invest in a meat thermometer. Raw ground beef should be cooked to an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit to ensure bacteria are killed. People should also do a thorough job of washing their hands after handling potential sources of contamination such as animals or bathroom surfaces and before handling food.
Read the original article on Tasting Table.