Over 45 Kg Tons (100 000 lbs) of ground beef transported to restaurants in the US have been recalled due to possible contamination with E. coli O103.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced this week. The beef is from the Georgia-based K2D Foods, also known as Colorado Premium Foods.

E. coli O103 outbreak, which has infected 156 people to date, according to the CDC. Those affected in the ongoing outbreak said that they ate ground beef both in restaurants and at home. This particular strain of E. coli is known as a shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) that not only causes typical food poisoning symptoms, such as stomach cramps, diarrhoea, and vomiting, but also can lead to organ damage in a small percentage of those with low immune systems.

The contaminated beef was identified after it was discovered that multiple patients who tested positive for E. coli O103 in the ongoing outbreak had gone to the same restaurant in Tennessee.

Testing of the restaurant’s unopened packages of beef, which came from K2D Foods, was found to be contaminated with E. coli O103.

A package of ground beef often contains meat from many different cows. That means if the meat from one cow is contaminated, the bacteria can get mixed into a lot of batches of ground beef. And compared with steaks, where any bacteria present is only on the surface of the meat, any bacteria in ground beef is distributed throughout.

How To Manage The Risk

Ground beef recalls ecoli

The name of the distributors that received the recalled ground beef from K2D has not been released, so it’s not clear which restaurants received the products involved in the recall.

If you suspect having received contaminated meats, the restaurants should throw away or return the products. Customers should be sure to only eat ground beef that has been cooked to an internal temperature of  75°C (160° F).

Check out our article on cooking temperatures.

What is E.coli?

E.coli are one of the most commonly known food poisoning bacteria, and are what we call an indicator organismE.coli originates from our gut as well as in other mammals such as cattle. If E.coli originates in the gut, it therefore tells us that faecal matter is present, and occurs as a result of unhygienic practices.

E.coli is a gram-negative bacteria that is naturally occurring within the environment. Mostly in soil or in our gut.

Most E.coli strains are not pathogens, in other words disease-causing bacteria. They do and can exist harmlessly with humans, and is an important part of our internal flora. This means the internal makeup of various bacteria in our gut that allows us to consume our food. These essentially keep bad pathogens at bay.

However, there are strains of E.coli that are dangerous such as E.coli O157:H7. These cause hemorrhagic gastroenteritis and can be severe. In general E.coli is a bacterium that should be avoided.

E.coli mostly occurs in our gut and is present in raw meats. This bacteria becomes an indicator of an unhygienic practices that may have taken place. Two perfect examples of this, are when we do not wash our hands after going to the toilet and when we do not wash our hands after the handling of raw meats.