CDC warns of E. Coli outbreak

(Photo Supplied/CDC)

NATIONWIDE (WOWO): An outbreak of E. coli has infected at least 156 people in 10 states, including Indiana and Ohio.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the outbreak includes 1 case in Indiana and a handful in Ohio, all connected to tainted ground beef that has left 20 people hospitalized. No deaths have been reported.

The agency says the illnesses started on March 1st and have affected people ranging from infants to seniors. Unfortunately, no common supplier, distributor, or brand of ground beef has been identified yet.

The CDC provided the following advice:

Consumers and restaurants should always handle and cook ground beef safely to avoid foodborne illness. Thoroughly cook ground beef and any food that contains ground beef to kill germs.

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.

  • Handling ground beef:
    • Keep raw meat separate from foods that won’t be cooked before eating.
    • Wash hands with soap and water after touching raw meat and before touching other kitchen items.
    • Thoroughly wash countertops, cutting boards, plates, and utensils with hot, soapy water or a bleach solution after they touch raw meat to avoid contaminating other foods and items in your kitchen.
  • Cooking ground beef:
    • Don’t eat raw or undercooked ground beef.
    • Cook ground beef hamburgers and mixtures such as meatloaf to 160°F internal temperature. Use a food thermometerExternal to make sure the meat has reached a safe internal temperature. You can’t tell whether meat is safely cooked by looking at it.
      • For hamburgers, insert thermometer through the side of the patty until it reaches the middle.
      • Place the thermometer in the thickest part of the meat for foods like meatloaf.
      • For casseroles and for sauces that contain ground beef, such as spaghetti sauce or sloppy joe, check the temperature in several places.
    • After cooking ground beef, refrigerate within 2 hours and use within 3 to 4 days.
    • When ordering at a restaurant, ask that ground beef hamburgers and mixtures be cooked to an internal temperature of at least 160°F.
  • Storing ground beef:
    • Refrigerate or freeze raw ground beef within two hours after purchase.
    • If you refrigerate raw ground beef, use within 1 or 2 days.
    • Store ground beef in a plastic bag on the lowest shelf of your refrigerator.
    • If you break large packages of ground beef into smaller packages for freezing, wash hands with soap and water after touching the meat or its packaging, and before touching other surfaces.
      • Use hot, soapy water to clean the area where you divided the ground beef, including kitchen counters and utensils.
      • Label your packages with the date they were placed in the freezer and where you purchased the ground beef.
  • Thawing ground beef:
    • The best way to safely thaw ground beef is in the refrigerator. Cook or refreeze within 1 or 2 days.

For more information about how to handle ground beef safely, call the USDA Meat and Poultry HotlineExternal at 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854).

Take action if you have symptoms of an E. coli infection:

  • Talk to your healthcare provider.
  • Write down what you ate in the week before you started to get sick.
  • Report your illness to the health department.
  • Assist public health investigators by answering questions about your illness.

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