So much for burgers this Memorial Day Weekend.
A massive recall of 1.8 million pounds of ground beef has health officials, once again, reminding the public of the dangers of undercooked meat.
The beef products, which were recalled because of a possible contamination, may have been tainted with E. coli O157:H7 — the source of at least 11 illnesses across four states, including three hospitalizations. They were traced to Wolverine Packing Co., according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service.
According to USA Today:
The recalled ground beef products were produced from March 31 to April 18 and shipped to distributors for restaurant use throughout Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri and Ohio, federal officials said.
Executives with Wolverine Packing issued a statement Monday through a public relations firm.
It said, in part, that “while none of the Wolverine Packing product has tested positive for the pathogen implicated in this outbreak, the company felt it was prudent to take this voluntary recall action in response to the illnesses and initial outbreak investigation findings.”
Company executives did not respond to calls for further comment.
But health officials, worried about the particular strain, are warning customers that, if not controlled, it could kill young children and the elderly. Symptoms from E. coli O157:H7 include severe abdominal cramps, bloody diarrhea and vomiting.
In fact, it has been estimated that just 23 of the bacteria — invisible to the naked eye even if they were clumped together — can kill a human. In contrast, it takes 1,000 or more of a salmonella to do the same damage, said Evangelyn Alocilja, a Michigan State University researcher who has helped develop sensors to rapidly detect and identify infectious agents.
The USDA released a full list Monday of the recalled products, which have the establishment number “EST. 2574B” and will have a production date code in the format “Packing Nos: MM DD 14″ between “03 31 14″ and “04 18 14.”
The best way to avoid the meat, which has likely passed its expiration date but may have been frozen, is to avoid ordering undercooked burgers. Ben Chapman, a food safety professor at North Carolina State University, suggests you ask your server for a burger cooked to 160 degrees.
“If you just say ‘medium well,’ you might get 145 degrees or 170 degrees,” Chapman said. “The protection for consumers is being specific and maybe looking like a nerd.”
But in this case, it’s much better to be safe than sorry. Or dead. Consumers with food safety questions can call 888-674-6854, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. weekdays, or visit www.AskKaren.gov.
SOURCE: USA Today | PHOTO CREDIT: Getty