At least 3 people have been sickened recently in Maine and New York after consuming ground beef manufactured by Cargill (but sold under various brand names) that was contaminated by E. coli O126, a rare strain of shiga-toxin producing Escherichia coli.  There is no indication yet whether any of the victims developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, or HUS.

Unfortunately, both states’ residents have experienced E. coli illness in the wake of other major outbreaks recently.  In late October of 2009, Fairbank Farms, a New York state ground beef company, recalled over half a million pounds of beef after being linked to an E. coli O157:H7 outbreak that sickened at least 26 people in 8 states, including both New York and Maine.  Five people developed HUS.

And in April and May 2010, shredded romaine lettuce distributed by Freshway Foods sickened at least 33 people in New York, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Michigan and Ohio with E. coli O145 (yet another non-O157 outbreak).  Among the 30 patients with available information, 12 (40%) were hospitalized. Three people developed HUS. 

In the current E. coli outbreak linked to Cargill ground beef products, the recalled products bear  establishment number "EST. 9400" inside the USDA mark of inspection. These products were produced on June 11, 2010, and were shipped to distribution centers in Connecticut and Maryland for further distribution. It is important to note that the above listed products were repackaged into consumer-size packages and sold under different retail brand names.

FSIS and the establishment are concerned that consumers may also freeze the product before use and that some product may still be in consumers’ freezers. FSIS strongly encourages consumers to check their freezers and immediately discard any product subject to this recall.