Greater Omaha Packing has initiated a raw beef recall on 295,236 pounds worth of products because of potential contamination with E. coli bacteria. The beef recall covers 39 different raw beef products of various cuts, including choice, trim, chuck, sirloin, shank, rib cap, and cab, according to a July 29 announcement from the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS).
The raw beef was produced on July 13 and then distributed to other plants in Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, and Nebraska for further processing. The recalled beef products were intended for “non-intact use,” which means the meat was going to be ground, comminuted (chopped, flaked, minced, etc.), mechanically tenderized (by cubing, pounding, or needling), or injected with solutions, according to the FSIS. Examples of non-intact products for sale might include fresh sausage, meatloaf, and meatballs, per the FSIS.
The FSIS hasn’t said what brands the products may have been sold under, or where the products were distributed for sale. But all products included in the beef recall are stamped with the establishment number “EST. 960A” inside the USDA mark of inspection. (The FSIS has a full list of product codes and descriptions.)
The FSIS uncovered the potential for contamination during routine product sample testing. There are no confirmed cases of illness in connection to any of the recalled products, according to the agency.
The strain of E. coli detected was O157:H7, a type called Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC). While many strains of E. coli bacteria are harmless, STEC strains, which are commonly linked to recalls and outbreaks, can make you sick.
Symptoms of a STEC infection typically include stomach cramps, diarrhea (which may be bloody), vomiting, and sometimes a mild fever, which usually come on about three or four days after consumption, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). While many cases are mild and most people recover within five to seven days, some people can get seriously ill. Seek medical care if your diarrhea lasts more than three days, is bloody, or occurs alongside a high fever or vomiting that makes it hard to stay hydrated, the CDC advises.
Around 5% to 10% of individuals diagnosed with a STEC infection develop a possibly life-threatening complication called hemolytic uremic syndrome, which affects kidney function and requires hospitalization, the CDC explains. The symptoms begin about a week after symptoms start (when diarrhea is likely going away) and include decreased urination and fatigue.
Non-intact meat tends to carry a greater risk for STEC infections than other types of meat. When intact raw beef products (like steak) are contaminated with STEC, the bacteria remains on the outer surface of the meat and is killed during normal cooking, the FSIS explains. But when non-intact beef products (like ground beef) are contaminated, the E. coli can be present inside and throughout the meat, so the product has to be cooked to a safe internal temperature to kill all the bacteria. And some non-intact beef products, like corned beef or country fried steak, are not traditionally cooked to a high enough internal temperature or for long enough to kill all the bacteria, the USDA explains.
That’s why it’s so important to always prepare beef safely. To do so, you need to use a food thermometer to make sure the meat is cooked to a certain internal temperature that is high enough to destroy bacteria that could potentially make you sick, according to the FSIS. The organization recommends always cooking ground or otherwise non-intact raw meat products to an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit. In-tact raw meat needs to reach an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit and rest for three minutes after cooking. And if you have any questions about safely cooking or eating meat, you can always chat with an expert live at the USDA site.