WARNING: Beef Recall Expanded After Sickening 200 People

As of May 13th, another 19 patients have been added to the toll in an E. coli outbreak traced to ground beef, bringing the total number of people with laboratory-confirmed infections to almost 200.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) first announced the outbreak on April 5, but has grown from 72 people in five states to 196 people across 10 states. Two companies have recalled ground beef in relation to the outbreak. Almost 80 percent of the victims specifically recall eating ground beef in the days before becoming sick.

Disease detectives from several states, the CDC and the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) continue to collect samples from ground beef and from lab test samples of patients. The multistate investigation began on March 28 when officials in Kentucky and Georgia notified CDC of the outbreak, according to the agency’s updated food safety alert.

Tennessee investigators confirmed the outbreak strain of E. coli O103 in ground beef from an unnamed restaurant where people ate before becoming ill.

However, the CDC continues to report that ill people handled or ate ground beef from a variety of sources in addition to restaurants.

“Ill people bought or ate ground beef from several different grocery stores and restaurants,” the CDC said. “Many ill people bought large trays or chubs of ground beef from grocery stores and used the meat to make dishes like spaghetti sauce and sloppy joes.”

According to officials, the ongoing investigation could result in more recalls, but so far, here are the two companies involved:

K2D Foods, doing business as Colorado Premium Foods, a Carrolton, GA, company, recalled 113,424 pounds of raw ground beef. The shipped to distributors in Port Orange, FL, and Norcross, GA, for further distribution to restaurants. The recall notice did not provide information regarding specific restaurants or other distributors that received the recalled beef.

Grant Park Packing of Franklin Park, IL, recalled 53,200 pounds of raw ground beef that had been shipped to Minnesota for further distribution and Kentucky for institutional use. The recall notice did not include information about what distributors of foodservice operations received the recalled beef.

Consumers, retailers, foodservice operators and distributors are urged to check to see if they have the recalled ground beef in their freezers. Freezing does not kill E. coli bacteria. If ground beef that is on hand is not in its original packaging that shows identifying information, it should be discarded.

More outbreak patients are likely to be identified because of the time between when a person becomes ill and then when the public health reporting happens. People who became sick after March 21 might not yet have been added to the outbreak toll, according to the CDC.

Victims in the ongoing outbreak range in age from less than 1 year to 84 years old with a median age of 19. Of those with complete information available, 52 percent are female, 28 percent have been admitted to hospitals, and two have developed a life-threatening form of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS).

The early or initial symptoms of E. coli infections usually appear about three to five (though occasionally in as few as one day or as many as 10 days) after a person ingests the bacteria; the symptoms include:

– Nausea
– Vomiting
– Stomach cramps (abdominal pain)
– Diarrhea that often is bloody
– Fever of about…