Public health alert issued over ground beef that may be contaminated with E. coli

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service issued a public health alert Saturday for ground beef products produced in March and shipped to food service institutions and retailers nationwide that may be contaminated with E. coli.

The raw ground beef items were produced March 28, 2024, have a packaging date of "032824" and have a Use/Freeze by date of April 22, 2024. The affected products also have an establishment number of "EST. 960A", found inside the USDA mark of inspection.

There is no recall for these items because they are no longer available for purchase, the FSIS says. Anyone who has previously purchased the products should not conserve or serve them, and they should be thrown away or return to their place of purchase.

What ground beef products are under the health alert?

The problem was discovered by Greater Omaha Packing Co. while conducting an inventory of product that was on hold because it was positive for E. coli, according to the FSIS, which was notified that the company had "inadvertently used a portion of the contaminated beef to produce ground beef products that they subsequently shipped into commerce."

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The products' labels under the health alert can be found on the FSIS' website.

There have not been any confirmed reports of illness due to consumption of these products, and anyone concerned about an illness is recommended to contact their healthcare provider.

What is E. coli?

Escherichia coli, abbreviated as E. coli, are bacteria that are found in the environment, foods and intestines of people and animals, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Although most strains of E. coli are harmless, some can make you sick and cause diarrhea, urinary tract infections, respiratory illnesses and pneumonia and other illnesses.

While symptoms can vary person to person, common symptoms for E. coli can include severe stomach cramps, bloody diarrhea and vomiting. Some people can have a fever, often less than 101 degrees Fahrenheit, and most people get better within five to seven days.

Most people who are infected start feeling sick three to four days after eating or drinking something that contains the bacteria, but illnesses can start anywhere from one to 10 days after exposure.

Some infections are very mild, but the CDC says others can be severe or life-threatening.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Ground beef health alert: Products may be contaminated with E. coli