Ground beef is the source of an E. coli O103 outbreak that has sickened 109 people in six states, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced today. The news comes two weeks after state health officials in Kentucky first reported a number of illnesses linked to the rare strain E. coli O103. As the outbreak spread to other states, health officials scrambled to determine the food source.
Although they now know that ground beef sold at grocery stores and supplied to restaurants is the source, they don’t know where it came from, as the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), which regulates our country’s meat and poultry supply, has so far been unable to identify a common supplier, distributor, or brand of ground beef. At this time, consumers are just being reminded of the importance of handling ground beef safely and cooking it to an internal temperature of 160˚ F.
E. coli outbreaks linked to ground beef and other cuts of beef are not uncommon. E. coli bacteria is found in the intestines of warm-blooded animals and can contaminate food during the slaughter process or anywhere along the supply chain where an infected person who handles food has not washed hands properly after using the bathroom.
Many of the people sickened in this outbreak reported purchasing large trays or chubs of ground beef from grocery stores, then using the meat to prepare a variety of dishes including spaghetti sauce and Sloppy Joes. But some also reported eating ground beef at restaurants before they became ill.
This outbreak includes 54 illnesses in Kentucky, 28 in Tennessee, 17 in Georgia, 7 in Ohio, 2 in Virginia and 1 in Indiana. The case patients range in age from 1 year to 83 years old. Half of those sickened are under 18. At least 17 people have been hospitalized.
The Pritzker Hageman E. coli Team is representing people sickened in this outbreak. If you would like a free consultation about your E. coli illness, contact them by calling 1 (888) 377-8900, or sending a text to 612-261-0856. Or, by completing the form below. The consultation is free and there is no obligation.