People in three new states have fallen ill because of E. coli-tainted beef first thought to be isolated to those living in Ohio and Michigan, where Kroger supermarkets sold bad beef from Nebraska Beef Ltd.
While the Kentucky patient lives near the border with Ohio, the Associated Press reported, new cases in New York and Indiana are more mysterious.
The new illnesses, which were first noted in late May, bring the total from this outbreak to 44. It is only the latest in a string of recalls of beef in recent months.
For many, the string of recalls has weakened their confidence in factory feed lots, industrial-scale slaughterhouses and the Department of Agriculture's ability to ensure that the meat available in grocery stores is safe to eat. Factory farming is among the most highly polluting industries, and many see the treatment of animals there as inhumane, and the use of corn feed, antibiotics and hormones as unnatural. Livestock production is also among the largest contributors to global warming.
Nebraska Beef, Washington Post blogger Annys Shin revealed, has had a history of producing E. coli-contaminated beef, dating back at least to 2003, including a batch that allegedly led to a woman's death.
Consumers looking for an alternative can consider a vegetarian diet, or one with less red meat both of which have been documented to yield other health benefits. Limiting red meat intake to once a week or less is a good strategy. And for those who don't want to give up hamburgers this summer, consider looking for local farms; there, at least, you can question those who raise the animals and prepare them for slaughter, providing an extra layer of scrutiny on the process that provides the food for your plate, the nutrition for your body and the flavor for your palate.
Consumers with questions about the recall should contact the Nebraska Beef's Vice President of Administration James Timmerman at (402) 733-0456, or the Kroger Consumer Hotline at (800) 632-6900.
USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline 1-888-MPHOTLINE or visit fsis.usda.gov
Although these products are not available at retail establishments, consumers preparing ground beef products should heed the following advice.
Wash hands with warm, soapy water for at least 20 seconds before and after handling raw meat and poultry. Wash cutting boards, dishes and utensils with hot, soapy water. Immediately clean spills.
Keep raw meat, fish and poultry away from other food that will not be cooked. Use separate cutting boards for raw meat, poultry and egg products and cooked foods.
Consumers should only eat ground beef or ground beef patties that have been cooked to a safe internal temperature of 160°F.
Color is NOT a reliable indicator that ground beef or ground beef patties have been cooked to a temperature high enough to kill harmful bacteria such as E. coli O157:H7.
The only way to be sure ground beef is cooked to a high enough temperature to kill harmful bacteria is to use a thermometer to measure the internal temperature.
Refrigerate raw meat and poultry within two hours after purchase or one hour if temperatures exceed 90°F. Refrigerate cooked meat and poultry within two hours after cooking.
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