12 sick with E. coli in New Hampshire

New Hampshire health officials are investigating an outbreak of E. coli associated with ground beef

rare.hamburgerSince June, 12 people in the state have been infected with the same strain of E. coli after eating ground beef, according to the state Department of Health and Human Services’ Division of Public Health Services. The safety of ground beef is regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which is assisting the state investigation.

“Ground beef is a known source of E. coli and it is important for people to avoid eating under-cooked ground beef whether at home or at a restaurant,” said Marcella Bobinsky, acting director of the state DPHS. “Young children and the elderly are especially vulnerable to severe illness with this infection.”

The people who became ill ate ground beef at a number of different locations. State health officials and the USDA are working to identify the specific source.

Ground beef should be cooked at a temperature of at least 160 degrees Fahrenheit.

hamburger-safe and unsafe-thumb-450x138-175

Non-O157 shiga toxin–producing Escherichia coli in U. S. retail ground beef

Shiga toxin–producing Escherichia coli (STEC) serotype O157:H7 and serogroups O26, O45, O103, O111, O121, and O145 are the leading cause of STEC-associated infections in humans in the United States. In the United States, these organisms are considered adulterants in raw nonintact beef products and in intact beef destined to be made into or used in nonintact raw beef products.

groundbeef_mediumThe objective of this study was to provide an estimate of the burden of the six serogroups of non-O157 STEC in ground beef obtained from retail stores across the United States. A convenience sample of commercial ground beef products (n = 1,129) were purchased from retail stores in 24 states from October 2011 to May 2012. The samples had various lean/fat proportions, muscle group of origin (chuck, round, sirloin, or not specified), and packaging types. For each ground beef sample, 25 g was inoculated in 225 ml of modified tryptic soy broth, stomached for 1 min, and then incubated at 41°C for 18 ± 2 h. These enrichment cultures were then screened for stx, eae, and O group genes using a commercially available, closed-platform PCR-based method. The potential positive samples were subjected to immunomagnetic separation and plated on modified Rainbow agar. Morphologically typical colonies were subjected to latex agglutination and PCR determination of stx and eae genes. Nine (0.8%) of the ground beef samples were potentially positive for at least one STEC serogroup after PCR screening. The serogroups detected by PCR assay were O26 (four samples), O103 (four samples), O145 (three samples), O45 (two samples), and O121 (one sample).

No STEC isolates belonging to these serogroups were recovered from the sample cultures. The current research provides updated surveillance data for non-O157 STEC isolates among commercial ground beef products and information regarding the potential sources of contamination from different parts of beef trims destined for ground beef production.

Journal of Food Protection®, Number 7, July 2014, pp. 1052-1240, pp. 1188-1192(5)

Liao, Yen-Te1; Miller, Markus F.1; Loneragan, Guy H.1; Brooks, J. Chance1; Echeverry, Alejandro1; Brashears, Mindy M.2


3 sick, ground beef recalled for possible E. coli O157:H7 contamination

Government-types love to bury the lede.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) thinks the most important part of a recall is … the recall.

I think the most important part of a recall is whether or not there are sick people.

Working in conjunction with the Michigan Departments of Community Health (MDCH) and Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD), 3 case-patients in Michigan have been identified with illness onset dates between July 18 and July 28, 2011. As a result of the epidemiologic investigation, FSIS determined there is a link between the ground beef products and the illnesses in Michigan.

McNees Meats and Wholesale LLC., a North Branch, Mich., establishment is recalling approximately 360 pounds of ground beef product products that may be contaminated with E. coli O157:H7.

The products subject to recall include:
36 – 10 lb. Bags of “McNees Ground Beef Bulk.”

Each clear plastic bag bears establish number “EST. 33971” within the USDA mark of inspection. The products subject to recall were produced on July 15, and July 21, 2011, and sold to restaurants in Armada, Lapeer and North Branch, Mich. The products were also sold from a retail establishment owned by McNees Meats and Wholesale, LLC.

Valley Meats ground beef recalled due to E. coli

Almost 100,000 pounds of ground beef are being recalled today after an epidemiological investigation linked E. coli O157:H7 infections in three states to the products.

The meat—sold frozen as ground beef, chopped steak, and pre-formed patties—was produced by Valley Meats LLC of Coal Valley, Illinois, on March 10, 2009 and distributed to various consignees nationwide.

A USDA FSIS press release states,

“The problem was discovered through an epidemiological investigation of illnesses. On May 13, 2009, FSIS was informed by the Ohio Department of Health of a cluster of
E. coli O157:H7 infections. Illnesses have been reported in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Illinois.”

The pathogen, found in the poop of warm-blooded animals, can be killed with sufficient heat

However, as the president and chief executive of the American Frozen Food Institute, Kraig R. Naasz, stated today in a letter to the editor of the New York Times,

“While food safety is a shared responsibility among food producers, government agencies and consumers, we recognize that the primary responsibility rests with food producers. Providing consumers with safe and nutritious products is a responsibility frozen food producers stake their names and reputations on.”

The letter was written in response to the Times’ May 15 article on frozen entrees, which Naasz felt did not “fully depict the frozen food industry’s commitment to product safety.”

With the name and reputation of Valley Meats on the line, will they be able to demonstrate a similar commitment to the safety of food? As the data on those sickened by Valley Meats’ products are released, it’s likely we’ll find out.

E. coli outbreak in ground beef linked to Whole Foods Markets

When I was a graduate student at the University of Michigan, Whole Foods was adjacent to my apartment complex. It was cruel, really. I couldn’t afford to shop there very often but the food always looked so delicious, and, well, wholesome. Yesterday, however, Whole Foods Market recalled fresh ground beef sold between June 2 and August 6 for a possible contamination with E. coli O157:H7.

Seven are sick in Massachusetts and two in Pennsylvania. None in Ann Arbor, yet.

Whole Foods has successfully built its reputation on natural and organic foods with high prices to make you believe you are doing good to your body by shopping there. Personally, I shopped there for the wide array of cheeses and pâté that wasn’t available in my favorite (more affordable) grocery. This outbreak raises the question for me – why are people still getting sick from ground beef processed at Nebraska Beef Ltd. that was previously recalled? And, as Bill Marler points out, why was Whole Foods selling Nebraska Beef? He offers a list of hard-hitting questions for the elite grocery chain that touts its own high standards.

On a side note, the Whole Foods that used to be in my backyard in Ann Arbor has since become a Trader Joe’s. Whole Foods moved down the street to a much larger and fancier location.