(RxWiki News) For many, it doesn't get much better than biting into a hot, juicy hamburger! But for patients in the latest E. coli outbreak, a meal of ground beef might have lead to an unpleasant illness.
An outbreak of E. coli has sickened 11 people, leading to a large recall of ground beef products.
Health officials are asking that the public follow safe practices when cooking or consuming food, including avoiding eating raw or undercooked ground beef.
"Clean kitchen surfaces and utensils thoroughly."
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an outbreak of the bacteria Escherichia coli (E. coli) has infected 11 people across four different US states.
Michigan has reported five patients, Ohio has reported four patients, and Massachusetts and Missouri have each reported one patient. The patients became ill between April 22 and May 2 and range in age from 19 to 46 years old, with an average age of 26.
CDC explained that while many strains of E. coli are harmless, others, like the strains in this outbreak — called Shiga toxin-producing strains — can cause illness and symptoms like bloody diarrhea, vomiting and severe stomach cramps. In some cases, infection can lead to hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a type of kidney failure.
Of the patients in the current outbreak, 60 percent have been hospitalized, but no deaths or cases of HUS have occurred. Investigations have linked the illness to ground beef produced by the Wolverine Packing Company of Detroit.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), on May 19 the company voluntarily recalled 1.8 million pounds of ground beef produced between March 31 and April 18 that may have been contaminated with E. coli. The recalled items have establishment number “2574B” and include a number of different ground beef products.
FSIS reported that the products in question were sent to distributors for use in restaurants and retail outlets across the US. CDC noted that the identified patients all reported eating ground beef at a restaurant before becoming ill.
"FSIS advises all consumers to safely prepare their raw meat products, including fresh and frozen, and only consume ground beef that has been cooked to a temperature of 160 [degrees Fahrenheit]," said FSIS. "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."
CDC also recommended always practicing other food safety guidelines, like washing hands thoroughly, disinfecting surfaces and refrigerating raw and cooked meat.
"Contact your health care provider if you think you may have become ill from eating recalled ground beef products," CDC recommended.