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Meat Producers Issue Massive Recalls after Salmonella, Listeria Outbreaks

Ground beef meat products at a grocery store in Fairfax, Virginia. USDA Photo by Lance Cheung

Two massive meat recalls were issued this week following outbreaks of food-borne illnesses.

Arizona-based meat producer JBS Tolleson Inc. recalled more than 6.5 million pounds of "various raw, non-intact beef products"—i.e. ground beef—that may be contaminated with salmonella, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced Thursday.


Fifty-seven cases of the illness linked to this outbreak strain were reported in 16 states between Aug. 5 and Sept. 6, according the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The products were produced and packaged from July 26 to Sept. 7 and were shipped to retailers nationwide.

CDC

"Consumers who have ground beef in their homes labeled with the establishment number 'EST. 267' should contact the store where it was purchased to find out if it was recalled. Do not eat recalled ground beef. Return it to the store or throw it away," the CDC advised.

Common symptoms of the illness include diarrhea, fever and stomach cramps 12 to 72 hours after being exposed to the bacteria. The illness usually lasts up to a week, and most people recover without treatment. People with weakened immune systems, children younger than 5 and elderly individuals are more likely to have a severe reaction.

On Wednesday, the USDA announced that ham-maker Johnston County Hams, Inc. in North Carolina recalled 89,096 pounds of ready-to-eat ham products produced from April 3, 2017 through Oct. 2, 2018.

Four people were hospitalized in North Carolina and Virginia, and one person died in Virginia from a listeria infection linked to the deli ham, the CDC said.

Pinpointing the exact source of the listeria outbreak can be difficult. Unlike common foodborne diseases, the incubation period for the disease can be long, from 3 days to 70 days.

Listeriosis can develop into a serious illness for some people. About 1,600 people get listeriosis each year, and about 260 die from listeriosis, according to the CDC. The illness can be especially dangerous for pregnant women and people with impaired immune systems.

"Return any recalled deli ham to the store for a refund or throw it away. Even if some ham was eaten and no one got sick, do not eat it. If you do not know if the ham you purchased was recalled, ask the place where you purchased it or throw it away," the agency said.

The CDC also warned people to sanitize anything the ham might have touched: "Wash and sanitize drawers or shelves in refrigerators and freezers where recalled ham was stored. Follow these five steps to clean your refrigerator.

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