On Jan. 6, 2022, the Department of Agriculture announced the recall of 28,356 pounds of ground beef, including Kroger-branded ground beef sold at Fred Meyer and QFC supermarkets, as well as products sold at Albertsons, Walmart, and WinCo grocery stores. The products all include the EST number 965 on their labels and were shipped to retail locations in Arizona, California, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming.

Kroger recalled 28,000 pounds of ground beef on Thursday, Jan. 6, 2022 based Consumer Reports tests that found a dangerous strain of E. coli in ground beef sold at Fred Meyer and QFC supermarkets.

Kroger-brand ground beef purchased at a Fred Meyer supermarket in Seattle and tested by Consumer Reports was found to have a deadly strain of E. coli called O157:H7. The tested package of 93 percent lean ground beef is marked with an “Establishment” (EST) number of 965, representing Interstate Meat, the plant where the meat was processed, and a “use or freeze by date” of 1/11/2022. (See the product label below.)

Kroger spokesperson Kristal Howard told CR that the company has initiated an investigation and that Interstate Meat supplies its Fred Meyer and QFC supermarkets in the Pacific Northwest. Fred Meyer has locations in Alaska, Idaho, Washington, and Oregon. QFC has supermarkets in Washington and Oregon. Both chains are owned by Kroger.

At this time, there is no recall of this ground beef, and no illnesses have been linked to the product. But CR’s food-safety experts warn consumers who might have purchased the Kroger-branded 93 percent lean ground beef from any Fred Meyer or QFC grocery store to check their packages and to throw away the product if it contains that establishment number and “use or freeze by” date. Consumers also should not buy ground beef with those markings from either of those two chains.

The Department of Agriculture, which oversees meat safety, responded to CR’s findings, with a spokesperson saying the agency has “a zero-tolerance policy” for O157:H7 E. coli in ground beef. The spokesperson added that the agency was “continuing to investigate this situation to identify all possible associated products that may be adulterated and in commerce and will initiate action accordingly as soon as possible to protect public health.”

Interstate Meat did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

FSIS Recall Notice:

Interstate Meat Dist. Inc., a Clackamas, Ore., establishment, is recalling approximately 28,356 pounds of ground beef products that may be contaminated with E. coli O157:H7, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced today.

The raw, ground beef items were produced on Dec. 20, 2021. The products subject to recall and the labels can be viewed here.

The products subject to recall bear establishment number “EST. 965” inside the USDA mark of inspection or printed next to the time stamp and use or freeze by date. These items were shipped to retail locations in Arizona, California, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.

The issue was reported to FSIS after a retail package of ground beef was purchased and submitted to a third-party laboratory for microbiological analysis and the sample tested positive for E. coli O157:H7.  FSIS conducted an assessment of the third-party laboratory’s accreditation and methodologies and determined the results were actionable.

Anyone concerned about an illness should contact a healthcare provider. E. coli O157:H7 is a potentially deadly bacterium that can cause dehydration, bloody diarrhea and abdominal cramps 2–8 days (3–4 days, on average) after exposure the organism. While most people recover within a week, some develop a type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). This condition can occur among persons of any age but is most common in children under 5-years old and older adults. It is marked by easy bruising, pallor, and decreased urine output. Persons who experience these symptoms should seek emergency medical care immediately.

FSIS is concerned that some product may be in consumers’ refrigerators or freezers. Consumers who have purchased these products are urged not to consume them.