Boneless Beef Products Recalled for E. coli

Tri-State Beef, of Cincinnati, Ohio, just issued a large recall of 228,596 pounds of beef products over concerns that the meat might be contaminated with the dangerous, sometimes deadly, E. coli O157:H7 pathogen. The announcement was made by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS).

This recall has been deemed a Class I, which means that this is a health hazard situation in which there exists a reasonable probability that the use of the product will cause serious, adverse health consequences or death.

Combo bins of “TRI-STATE BEEF CO., INC BONELESS BEEF” are involved. Each bin bears the establishment number “EST. 1750″ inside the USDA mark of inspection. The products subject to recall were produced between July 19, 2011 and July 22, 2011, and sold to federally inspected establishments for further processing and distribution in Chicago, Illinois; Cincinnati and Columbus, Ohio; Iowa and Virginia.

The problem was discovered through routine FSIS testing which confirmed a positive result for E. coli O157:H7. Of note, said the FSIS, the recalled products were distributed to facilities where they were cooked and received full-lethality treatment, which would effectively kill the E. coli O157:H7 pathogen. Because the products were shipped into commerce they are subject to recall, even though they were shipped to other federally-inspected establishments where they received full-lethality treatment and would no longer be considered adulterated.

To date, neither the FSIS, nor Tri-State Beef, have received reports of illnesses linked to consumption of these recalled products.

E. coli is a potentially deadly pathogen, and deadly strain O157:H7 is certainly the most popular, making headlines regularly for its part in foodborne illness outbreaks. E. coli, in general, are a group of bacteria found in animal intestines and feces. While some strains are necessary for digestion; some are harmful, deadly, and toxin producing and part of a group of E. coli called Verocytotoxigenic E. coli, or VTECs, also known as Shiga-producing E. coli. This group includes E. coli O157:H7.

E. coli O157:H7 can cause bloody diarrhea, dehydration, and, in the most severe cases, kidney failure. The very young, seniors, and persons with weakened immune systems are the most susceptible to foodborne illness.

FSIS advises all consumers to safely prepare their raw meat products, including fresh and frozen, and only to consume ground beef that has been cooked to a temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit. The only way to confirm that ground beef is cooked to a temperature high enough to kill harmful bacteria is to use a food thermometer that measures internal temperature.

Tri-State Beef’s Mark Fitch can be reached at 1.514.731.8459.

Consumers with food safety questions can “Ask Karen,” the FSIS virtual representative available 24 hours a day at AskKaren.gov. The toll-free USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline 1.888.MPHotline (1.888.674.6854) is available in English and Spanish and can be reached from l0:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Eastern Time (ET), Monday through Friday. Recorded food safety messages are available 24 hours a day.

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