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Nearly 43,000 Pounds of Ground Beef Contaminated With E. Coli

How to know if there's some in your fridge.

You might have had a leisurely weekend in the backyard but the good people at the US Department of Agriculture were working hard to protect you from bad beef. That agency announced on Saturday that Lakeside Refrigerated Services of Swedesboro, New Jersey, was recalling 42,922 pounds of ground beef contaminated with E. coli.

More specifically, the meat is contaminated with E. coli O157:H7, a specific variety of the bacterium that produces the Shiga toxin that, according to a NIH study, is “one of the most potent bacterial toxins” there is.

Shiga can cause dehydration, bloody diarrhea, and abdominal cramps. And if those are the only symptoms, you’re lucky. It can also cause hemolytic uremic syndrome, a type of kidney failure that’s most common in kids under five and older adults. HUS can also be fatal.

The contaminated items have “EST. 46841” inside their USDA mark of inspection and were shipped to stores across the country. The USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service’s news release contains more specifics on the brands, packaging, use-by dates, and lot codes of the affected items, which include ground beef and ground beef patties in various quantities. It also posted some sample labels for more visual learners.

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The USDA found the contamination in a routine test, and that this appears to be a fairly contained problem. There have been no confirmed reports of people getting sick, unlike an outbreak in May of 2019 that hit hundreds. It’s also a tiny amount of beef next to the 60 tons recalled in September of 2018.

The odds are good, given that Americans consumed 27.3 billion pounds of beef last year, that your fridge is E. coli-free.

But the beef is so dangerous and checking on it so easy that it behooves you to go to your fridge to see if you have any ground beef implicated in this recall. And this probably goes without saying, but if you do have some potentially contaminated beef you should either return it to the store or chuck it, and fast.