WASHINGTON – Cargill Meat Solutions is recalling approximately 132,606 pounds (66.3 tons) of ground beef products that may be contaminated with Escherichia coli O26, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced last week.
Per the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 18 people infected with the outbreak strain of E. coli O26 were reported from four states. Illnesses started on dates ranging from July 5 to July 25. Six people were hospitalized, including one person who developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, a type of kidney failure, and one person in Florida died.
The ground beef items were produced and packaged on June 21, 2018. The products subject to recall bear establishment number “EST. 86R” inside the USDA mark of inspection. These items were shipped to retail locations nationwide.
On August 16, 2018, FSIS was notified of an investigation of E. coli O26 illnesses. FSIS, CDC and state public health and agriculture partners determined that raw ground beef was the probable source of the reported illnesses.
The Cargill Meat Solutions’ ground beef products were identified following further investigation related to Recall 072-2018, conducted on August 30, when ground beef products were recalled in connection with the E. coli O26 outbreak. FSIS’ traceback information indicated that case-patients consumed ground beef products purchased at various retail stores that were supplied by Cargill Meat Solutions.
The CDC reports that the outbreak appears to be over, but advises retailers and restaurants not serve or sell recalled ground beef and to check freezers and storage for recalled products. If possible, retailers who received recalled ground beef should contact their customers to alert them of the recall.
“We were distressed to learn a fatality may be related to an E. coli contamination of one of our products. Our hearts go out to the families and individuals affected by this issue,” notes a statement on Cargill’s website.
“We want to make sure that consumers understand how to identify and safely dispose of any questionable ground chuck. All affected product was pulled from supermarket shelves, but consumers may still have it in their freezers, so it is important that they take action to prevent possible illness … At Cargill, food safety is something we work hard at every day. Internal and external food safety teams are assessing the processes at Fort Morgan [Colorado] and our other facilities to ensure we continue to deliver safe food to our customers and consumers.”