In response to an E. coli outbreak that sickened 23 people, JBS Swift Beef Company, a Colorado firm, recalled 380,000 pounds of beef products that may be contaminated with E. coli O157:H7. These products were distributed nationally.
This June 28, 2009 recall was an expansion of a June 24 recall that involved 41,280 pounds of JBS Swift beef products distributed to Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, and Wisconsin.
The recalled products were produced on April 21, 2009 and were distributed both nationally and internationally to establishments and retail stores nationwide for further processing. The recalled products include intact cuts of beef, such as primals, sub-primals, or boxed beef typically used for steaks and roasts rather than ground beef. FSIS indicated that some of these products may have been further processed into ground products by other companies. The highest risk products for consumers are raw ground product, trim or other non-intact product made from the products subject to the recall.
JBS Swift Beef Linked to E. coli Outbreak
Several state health departments, the CDC, and the United States Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA-FSIS) investigated a multi-state outbreak of Escherichia coli O157:H7 infections.
On June 24, FSIS issued a notice about a recall of 41,280 pounds of beef products from JBS Swift Beef Company that may be contaminated with E. coli O157:H7. On June 28, the recall was expanded to include 380,000 pounds of assorted pieces of beef (beef primal products) from the same company.
Health officials in several states who were investigating reports of E. coli O157:H7 illnesses found that most ill persons had consumed ground beef, and many reported that it was undercooked. At least some of the illnesses appeared to be associated with products subject to these recalls. Samples from unopened packages of ground beef recovered from a patient’s home were tested by the Michigan Public Health Laboratory yielded an E. coli O157:H7 isolate that matched the “DNA fingerprint” of the outbreak strain.
Twenty three persons infected with a strain of E. coli O157:H7 with a particular “DNA fingerprint” were reported from 9 states. Of these, 17 were confirmed by an advanced DNA test as having the outbreak strain. The number of ill persons identified in each state is as follows: California (4), Maine (1), Michigan (6), Minnesota (1), New Hampshire (1), New Jersey (2), New Mexico (1), New York (1), and Wisconsin (6).
Most ill persons reported consumption of ground beef, and many reported that it was undercooked. Ground beef with the outbreak strain was obtained from the home of one person infected with that strain.
The first reported illness began on April 2, 2009, and the last began on June 13, 2009. Among 17 ill persons for whom hospitalization status is known, 12 (70%) were hospitalized. Two patients developed a type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). No deaths have been reported. Of patients with available information, 14 (64%) were male and 59% are less than 19 years old (range 2 to 74 years).