Disease & Illness

The E. Coli Outbreak From Ground Beef Has Now Expanded To 10 States

Yikes! Check your fridge.

At least 156 people in 10 states have been infected with E. coli after eating tainted ground beef at home and in restaurants, federal officials said.

Of the people infected so far, 20 have been hospitalized, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on April 23. No deaths have been reported.

The cases include people who’ve eaten the beef since March 1, the agency said, but no supplier, distributor or brand of beef has been identified.

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“Traceback investigations are ongoing to determine the source of raw ground beef supplied to grocery stores and restaurant locations where ill people reported eating,” the CDC said.

People fell ill starting March 1, the agency said. Those infected range in age from younger than one to 83 years old, with a median age of 19.

ground beef photo
Getty Images | Joe Raedle

There may be more illnesses from the outbreak that have not yet been reported.

“Illnesses that occurred after March 26 might not yet be reported due to the time it takes between when a person becomes ill with E. coli and when the illness is reported. This takes an average of two to three weeks,” the CDC said.

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Those who have fallen ill have reported eating ground beef at home and in restaurants. Though the outbreak has been linked to beef based on preliminary information, the CDC is currently continuing its investigation.

As the website reads, “CDC, several states, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service are investigating a multistate outbreak of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli O103 infections. Preliminary information suggests that ground beef is the source of this outbreak. This investigation is ongoing.”

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Getty Images | Joe Raedle

The CDC earlier this month said it had identified ground beef as the food responsible for an outbreak that at the time involved multiple cases of illnesses in six states.

The outbreak has now expanded to include: Georgia, Kentucky, Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia, Indiana, Florida, Illinois, Mississippi and Minnesota.

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Meanwhile, Colorado Premium Foods recalled more than 113,000 pounds of raw ground beef products due to possible E. Coli contamination, the Food Safety and Inspection Service said in a statement.

The Georgia company said the ground beef items were produced on March 26 and 29, and on April 2, 5, 10 and 12.

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There’s no established link between the product and the ongoing E. coli outbreak, according to the statement.

Symptoms And Prevention

Symptoms of E. coli infection include severe stomach cramps, diarrhea and vomiting. They begin, on average, three to four days after ingesting the bacteria. Most people recover in five to seven days.

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For now, the CDC is not recommending that consumers avoid eating ground beef. Instead, consumers are urged to prevent the spread of E. coli by cooking ground beef to an internal temperature of 160 degrees and keeping uncooked foods away from raw beef to prevent cross-contamination.

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It’s also crucial to washing hands whenever dealing with meat products. “Wash hands with soap and water after touching raw ground beef. Use hot, soapy water or a bleach solution to wash kitchen items that touched raw meat,” the CDC suggests.

Also, make sure to keep raw foods separate from other foods that won’t be cooked. If the raw meat comes in contact with any countertops, cutting boards, plates and utensils, its best to wash those items in hot, soapy water or a bleach solution in order to avoid contaminating other foods and items in your kitchen.

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Though the CDC’s investigation is still ongoing, the agency urges consumers to look out for updates as more information becomes available.

Written by Faith Karimi for CNN. Additional reporting by Simplemost staff. 

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