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USDA public health alert: Raw ground beef may contain E.coli O157:H7



If you’ve purchased raw ground beef in recent weeks, you’ll want to take a closer look at its packaging. The meat in your fridge or freezer may be contaminated with the bacteria E. coli, according to the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The products in question aren’t available for purchase anymore, which is why FSIS didn’t issue a recall. The agency did, however, announce a public health alert on Saturday, warning consumers and food service institutions nationwide not to eat or serve them.

The Greater Omaha Packing Co. notified the FSIS that one of its products had tested positive for E. coli O157:H7, a strain known to cause severe intestinal infection in humans. The company “inadvertently used a portion of the contaminated beef to produce ground beef products that they subsequently shipped into commerce,” the public health alert says.

Which ground beef products may be contaminated?

The potentially contaminated items bear a packaging date of March 28, 2024, and have a use/freeze by date of April 22, 2024. These products also have the establishment number “EST. 960A” within the USDA mark of inspection.

Click here to view the impacted packaging labels, and find additional information about the products included in the public health alert in the table below.

If a meat product in your home is on the list, throw it away or return it to where you bought it, the FSIS advises.

Why is E. coli dangerous?

Short for Escherichia coli, E. coli is a group of bacteria typically found in human and animal intestines. Most E. coli are harmless and play a critical role in your intestinal tract, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). However, some strains transmitted through contaminated food or water, or contact with people or animals, can make you very sick.

The strain specific to this public health alert, E. coli O157:H7, is the most commonly identified kind in North America to feature the Shiga toxin, per the CDC. This toxin is so strong it can damage the lining of your intestinal wall, causing bloody diarrhea. 

Watch out for these additional symptoms, the CDC says:

  • Low-grade ever (below 101 degrees)
  • Severe stomach cramps
  • Vomiting

While most people recover from E. coli O157:H7 exposure within five to seven days, some infections can be life-threatening. Young children and older adults are most susceptible to severe infection, which can include a type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome. Shiga toxin-producing E. coli cause about 265,000 infections in the U.S. annually, according to the CDC.

Contact your doctor if you’re showing these symptoms and think you may have been exposed to the bacteria. So far, the FSIS hasn’t confirmed any reports of illness stemming from this public health alert.

For more on food safety and your health:

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