E. Coli for Memorial Day: What to check before you grill...

E. Coli for Memorial Day: What to check before you grill or picnic

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WASHINGTON, May 22, 2014 — Two E. coli outbreaks could impact your Memorial Day meal plans.

The USDA and the Center for Disease Control (CDC) announced yesterday that stores in nine states may have received beef contaminated with E. coli.

The CDC said the contaminated beef originated from the Wolverine Packing Company, a Detroit, Michigan company, which voluntarily recalled approximately 1.8 million pounds of ground beef.

The company shipped the meats to distributors for retail resale and for restaurant use around the nation. The CDC has identified specific stores in Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, North Dakota and Wisconsin, but notes it believes the meat was distributed “nationwide.”

The USDA lists the following retailers that received the product:

• Gordon Food Service Marketplace stores in Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Wisconsin

• Giorgio’s Italian Delicatessen in Stuart, Florida

• M Sixty Six General Store in Orleans, Michigan

• Buchtel Food Mart in Buchtel, Ohio

However, the USDA has not released the names of the restaurants that received tainted meat, citing regulations that prohibit disclosure.

The ground beef products were produced between March 31, 2014 and April 18, 2014. The products contain establishment number “EST. 2574B” and have production date code reading “Packing Nos: MM DD 14” where MM DD is between 03 31 and 04 18.

The CDC reports that so far it has identified 11 cases of E. coli O157:H7 from the beef in four states. There have been no deaths thus far. 60% of the cases have been hospitalized.

The CDC reminds consumers to always practice food safety for raw ground beef. It advises consumers not to eat raw or undercooked ground beef and to cook ground beef hamburgers to 160 degrees internal temperature. It also warns against cross-contaminating other foods and to refrigerate cooked and raw meet within two hours after purchase.

Lest vegetarians think they are free from potential E. coli, the CDC has also reported ten cases of E. coli from raw clover sprouts in Washington and Idaho. Fifty percent of the cases required hospitalization and there have been no deaths.

According to the CDC, the sprouts were likely produced by Evergreen Fresh Sprouts, LLC, of Idaho.

Evergreen Fresh Sprouts was also part of a 2011 salmonella outbreak which appeared to have come from the company’s alfalfa sprouts and spicy sprouts.

Microbiologists say sprouts are particularly prone to carrying bacterial infections, because the growing conditions for sprouts mimic ideal conditions for growing bacteria.

Both the ground beef and the sprouts are from bacteria producing Shiga toxin Escherichia coli, or STEC.

The CDC reports that people infected with STEC frequently suffer from abdominal cramps and diarrhea. Although most of those infected recover in a week, some illnesses can last longer. STEC can also cause a type of kidney failure, particularly in those under five years old, elderly adults, and those with a weak immune system.

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Lisa M. Ruth
Lisa M. Ruth is Editor-in-Chief of CDN. In addition to her editing and leadership duties, she also writes on international events, intelligence, and other topics. She has worked with CDN as a journalist since 2009. Lisa is also President of CTC International Group, Inc., a research and analysis firm in South Florida, providing actionable intelligence to decisionmakers. She started her career at the CIA, where she won several distinguished awards for her service. She holds an MA in international relations from the University of Virginia, and a BA in international relations from George Mason University. She also serves as Chairman of the Board of Horses Healing Hearts, and is involved with several other charitable organizations, including Habitat for Humanity, The Boys and Girls Clubs of America, and AYSO.