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Central Valley Meat Co. recalled more than 34,000 pounds of ground beef it shipped to Stater Bros. stores in California over concerns the meat may be tied to the recent Salmonella Dublin outbreak, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service said Friday.
Central Valley Meat is the first producer linked to the outbreak, which the Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention announced Nov. 1. Company officials didn't respond to a request for comment.
The USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service said its investigation continues and more products could be recalled.
Two of the salmonella cases occurred in California. The other states where people have become ill are: Colorado (three), Iowa (one), Kansas (two), Oklahoma (one), and Texas (one).
Illnesses in this outbreak are more severe than expected for salmonella, the CDC noted at the time the outbreak was announced. The hospitalization rate for salmonella poisoning is typically 20 percent, but in this outbreak, eight of the 10 victims had to be hospitalized, and one person died.
Salmonella Dublin isn’t as common as other strains of salmonella, but it is particularly worrisome. According to the CDC: “People with Salmonella Dublin infections have longer hospital stays, more bloodstream infections, and are more likely to die than people infected with other kinds of salmonella.” This bacteria is often resistant to antibiotics, making infections difficult to treat.
The meat is no longer in stores; it was produced on July 23 and had a use by date of Aug. 14, 2019. However, consumers may still have this meat in their freezers.
The ground beef packages involved in the recall are:
• One pound packages of “Starter Bros. 100% Pure Ground Beef 96% lean 4% fat” with lot 2049 on the retail label; lot 19204 on the case label; and Use By 08-14-19.
• Two pound packages of “Starter Bros. 100% Pure Ground Beef 93% lean 7% fat” with lot 2049 on the retail label; lot 19204 on the case label; and Use By 08-14-19.
Twenty-pound cases of ground beef are also part of the recall. These are marked “Stater Bros. 93/7 Ground Beef 10# Chub 10 Lb. Chubs/ 2 Count” with lot 19204 on the case label and a use by date of 08-14-19. This meat was likely broken up into smaller packages for sale at the stores.
FSIS said that one illness was linked to beef produced by Central Valley Meat. But it said that this strain of Salmonella Dublin was not antibiotic resistant.
If you purchased any of the ground beef involved in the recall from Stater Bros. and still have it in your freezer, or if you shop at Stater Bros. and aren’t sure when you bought the meat, do not eat it. Instead return it to the store for a refund.
Neither the CDC or FSIS is recommending that stores stop selling other ground beef or that consumers stop eating it. Handling ground beef carefully and thoroughly cooking it to an internal temperature of 160° F can help prevent food poisoning, the agencies said.
But CR experts say consumers at risk for severe food poisoning—the elderly, the very young, people with diseases that compromise the immune system, or pregnant women—should be cautious when eating beef. “So far, only a few people in a few states have gotten ill, but the bacteria appears to be virulent,” said James E. Rogers, Ph.D., director of food safety and testing at Consumer Reports.
“I’d suggest vulnerable people who live in the affected states avoid eating ground beef until we have more information,” Rogers said. “And if you do choose to eat it, be scrupulous about washing your hands and kitchen utensils after handling raw meat and using a food thermometer to make sure the beef is cooked to 160° F.”
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