E. coli Outbreak May Have Claimed 2 Lives, At Least 16 Hospitalized

Twenty-eight people have been sickened in an <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/topics/overview/e_coli_O157_H7">E. coli outbreak that spans a dozen states. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), two deaths may be linked to the E. coli outbreak, and a number of victims have been hospitalized.

E. coli is a potentially deadly bacterium that can cause bloody diarrhea, dehydration, and in the most severe cases, kidney failure. The very young, seniors and people with weak immune systems are the most susceptible to foodborne illness.

We reported yesterday that Fairbank Farms of Ashville, New York had recalled more than a half million pounds of ground meat products that may have been tainted with E. coli. Over the weekend, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) said that there was an association between the fresh ground beef products subject to recall and illnesses in Connecticut, Maine and Massachusetts.

The products subject to recall were sent to retailers including Trader Joe’s, Price Chopper, Lancaster and Wild Harvest, Shaw’s, BJ’s, Ford Brothers, and Giant Food Stores. The recall was for distribution centers in eight states, but Fairbank Farms said some retailers may have sent the affected beef to other states.

According to the FSIS, the meat involved in this recall is marked with “EST. 492″ inside the USDA mark of inspection. The recalled products were packaged on September 15 and 16 and may have been labeled at the retail stores with a sell-by date from September 19 through 28. Consumers should ask at their point of purchase if the products they have purchased are subject to recall.

The two deaths suspected to be linked to the outbreak occurred in New Hampshire and upstate New York. According to the CDC, 16 people have been hospitalized, and three have developed kidney failure as a result of their E. coli infections.

Eight cases of E. coli have been reported in Massachusetts; four each in Connecticut and New Hampshire; two each in Maine, Pennsylvania, and South Dakota; and one each in California, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, and Vermont, the CDC said.

Consumers are being advised to safely prepare raw meat products, whether they are fresh or frozen, and only consume ground beef that has been cooked to a temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit. The only way to be sure ground beef is cooked to a high enough temperature to kill harmful bacteria is to use a food thermometer to measure the internal temperature, the FSIS said.

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