Ground Beef Outbreaks and Recalls

Salmonella Enteriditis Due to Contaminated Cargill Ground Beef, June 2012 – On July 22, 2012 Cargill Meat Solutions announced a recall of 29,339 pounds of fresh ground beef products due to possible contamination with Salmonella Enteriditis. Using epidemiologic and tracback data public health investigators in 7 states (MA, ME, NH, NY, RI, VA, and VT) and the CDC linked 33 patients diagnosed with S. Enteriditis to consumption of Cargill ground beef sold at Hannaford grocery stores in Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, New York and Vermont. Illness onsets for 5 New York patients ranged from June 6, 2012 to June 13, 2012. Two of the 5 patients were hospitalized. The Vermont Department of Health isolated the outbreak strain in leftover product.

Emmpak/Cargill Ground Beef January, 2002 – In early 2002, isolates of Salmonella Newport in New York state were found to be resistant to more than nine antibiotics and had a decreased susceptibility to the antibiotic, ceftriaxone. Since 1996, an increasing number of Salmonella Newport isolates had been found to be resistant to antibiotics. This particular strain was referred to as SN-MDR-AmpC. Subsequent to the discovery of cases in New York, four additional states discovered cases sharing the same strain of SN-MDR-AmpC. When the cases were investigated, it was found that consumption of undercooked ground beef was the only food that was significantly associated with a risk of infection. The risk of infection when undercooked ground beef was eaten was over 50 times greater than when well cooked meat was eaten. A sample of ground beef provided by a case-patient was analyzed and was found to be contaminated with SN-MDR-AmpC. Traceback of the meat implicated Emmpak Foods Inc., a subsidiary of Cargill, Inc. Most patients had eaten lean, or extra-lean, ground beef. This outbreak was the first to implicate ground beef as a source of SN-MDR-AmpC. It illustrated the spread of antibiotic resistance from animal products to humans.

Beef Packers, Inc., Cargill, Ground Beef June, 2009 – A Beef Packers, Inc. plant in California owned by Cargill, distributed approximately 830,000 pounds of ground beef that was likely contaminated with Salmonella Newport. The beef was shipped to distribution centers in Arizona, California, Colorado, and Utah where it was repackaged into consumer-sized packages and sold under different retail brand names. The contaminated beef contained a strain of Salmonella resistant to several commonly used antibiotics (called MDR-AmpC resistance). Persons in nine states fell ill; at least 21 of the people lived in Colorado, five lived in California, and one lived in Wyoming. The outbreak began in May, however most people became ill during late June and early July. Most of the ill in Colorado had purchased the ground beef at Safeway grocery stores. Cargill is a privately held, multinational corporation whose business activities include production of crop nutrients, grain, livestock feed, agricultural commodities, and ingredients for processed foods.

Beef Packers, Inc., Cargill, Ground Beef November, 2009 – In December, Beef Packers, Inc., owned by Cargill, recalled over 20,000 pounds of ground beef contaminated with a drug-resistant strain of Salmonella Newport. The company issued an earlier recall in August, 2009, due to contamination of ground beef with the same strain of Salmonella Newport. This contaminated ground beef was produced in September and was distributed to Safeway grocery stores in Arizona and New Mexico. The Arizona Department of Health linked two illnesses to the ground beef.