Due to the nature of our industrial food system in America, it’s important to stay attuned to news and updates about food recalls.
Although recalls can affect virtually any food product, more often than not they’re related to meat, dairy or certain vegetable products grown in proximity to livestock. Though these things do happen periodically, there’s a recall happening throughout the country at the moment that’s particularly important to know about.
Most recently, the USDA has announced a nationwide recall on beef products.
The recall began as far back as October, when Arizona-based meat manufacturers JBS Tolleson announced a recall on more than 6.5 million pounds of ground beef.
The items that were initially affected were packages of meat that had been labelled between July 26th and September 7th, namely products printed with the “EST. 267” stamp as well. The recall was due to the food’s suspected contamination with salmonella, a common but infectious bacterium that can wreak havoc on the human digestive system.
Still, the recall has only expanded since the summer and fall.
Most recently, NPR has reported that an additional 2,500 tons of beef have been added to the recall.
The CDC launched an investigation into the recall and has tracked where people have come down with salmonella as a result of contaminated meat. All told, there have been 246 people across the country with reported illnesses. The states that were worst affected were California, Colorado and Arizona, with 66, 50 and 42 people ill, respectively. Still, other states with reported cases include Connecticut, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, New Mexico, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.
Still, reports say that even more beef could be recalled as well in the near future.
Of the many reported cases of salmonella, 59 people have been hospitalized.
For their part, JBS Tolleson has released a statement on the recall that “while no products in this expansion have been definitively linked to any illness,” they would still be doing “a full evaluation of [their internal] processes and controls.” Beyond that, they also committed to “voluntarily [test] 100 percent of the beef trimmings produced in the Tolleson facility.”
While salmonella infections are one of the most common food-borne illnesses in the United States, regulatory agencies still list this recall as high risk.
While paying attention to which products to avoid is an important step in remaining safe, it’s important to know more about salmonella in general.
Typically speaking, anyone infected with salmonella may develop diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramp symptoms within 12 to 72 hours after ingesting contaminated food. Though it can be treated with antibiotics, it’s important that anyone who thinks they’ve been infected seek medical help as soon as possible. While adults and those with healthy immune systems can expect to make a full recovery, younger children, elderly persons and those with compromised immune systems may be more at risk.
Still, there are also ways to avoid salmonella infection from raw meat.
Whenever preparing raw beef, it’s important to follow basic safety procedures.
When cooking, it’s important to wash your hands with soap and hot water before, throughout and after handling raw meat. Beyond that, be sure to avoid cross contamination of your ingredients when using knives and cutting boards. Finally, be sure to cook all meat to an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit or higher to be sure that no salmonella can survive. A full list of packaging labels can be seen here.
Above all, if you have any meat with the packaging listed above, be sure to throw it out.
While these recalls do happen, the best thing to do is to stay safe and informed.
Keep checking various news outlets to determine any updates on this story and be sure to cook all raw meat very carefully. Very cautious consumers can also avoid buying any ground beef productions from these manufacturers until the recall has ended. Finally, be sure to seek any medical help if you find yourself coming down with any unusual symptoms that could be linked to salmonella.
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