COLUMBUS – The Ohio Department of Health says it is monitoring and keeping tabs on the latest updates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention after nearly 200 people have fallen ill in 10 states from an e. coli outbreak linked to ground beef.
The e. coli outbreak has impacted dozens of people in nearby states like Kentucky Tennessee and Indiana.
Here in Ohio, 12 people have reportedly fallen ill – mostly in southern Ohio counties near Dayton and Cincinnati.
Two companies – one in Illinois and another in Georgia – have recalled roughly 170,000 pounds of ground beef since March, according to the CDC.
Still, investigators have not publicly identified the restaurants, grocery stores or suppliers where this tainted ground beef was sold.
In its latest update posted May 13, the CDC noted:
“Of the 147 people interviewed, 115 (78%) reported eating ground beef. This percentage is significantly higher than results from a survey pdf icon of healthy people. Ill people bought or ate ground beef from several different grocery stores and restaurants. Many ill people bought large trays or chubs of ground beef from grocery stores and used the meat to make dishes like spaghetti sauce and sloppy joe.
Officials in Tennessee collected ground beef from a restaurant where ill people reported eating. Laboratory testing identified the outbreak strain of E. coli O103 in the ground beef collected in Tennessee.
Two companies recalled raw ground beef products because they may be contaminated with E. coli. Grant Park Packing in Franklin Park, Ill., recalled approximately 53,200 pounds of raw ground beef products on April 24, 2019. K2D Foods, doing business as Colorado Premium Foods, in Carrollton, Ga., recalled approximately 113,424 pounds of raw ground beef products on April 23, 2019. These products were sold to restaurants and institutions.
USDA-FSIS and state regulatory officials continue to collect products for testing and continue their traceback investigations to determine the source of ground beef supplied to grocery stores and restaurants where ill people ate. At this time, no common supplier, distributor, or brand of ground beef has been identified that could account for the whole outbreak. Consumers should handle ground beef safely and cook it thoroughly.”
10TV News spoke Tuesday with Gina Nicholson Kramer, a former food safety manager with Kroger, who has also worked on foodborne illness investigations while working as a food safety inspector. She now runs her own consulting and auditing business, Savour Food Safety.
“The great thing is that we have very, very smart investigators that are working on this. The epidemiologists are trained to search on every corner. Uncover every rock that they can,” she said.
She says the difficult thing right now can be pinpointing the exact locations of how people became ill. Restaurants or grocers may have combine the tainted meat with other items. Nicholson Kramer says relying on specific lab testing is the best bet to link an outbreak back to a supplier.
“That shiga toxin is one of the deadliest toxins known to man. So if that e. coli has been able to produce that toxin in the person who has become ill, many times that person can move into kidney failure or go into hemolytic uremic syndrome. HUS. A very serious health condition… it can be deadly,” Gina Nicholson Kramer said.
Her best suggestions: make sure anyone washes their hands before, during and after preparing ground beef; make sure it is thoroughly cooked to 160 degrees Fahrenheit; store raw meat properly on a lower shelf so that it does not drip on produce or other items; and after cooking, quickly refrigerator any leftovers.
The CDC latest update:
- A total of 196 people infected with the outbreak strain of E. coli O103 have been reported from 10 states.
- Twenty-eight people have been hospitalized. Two cases of hemolytic uremic syndrome, a type of kidney failure, have been reported. No deaths have been reported.
- Epidemiologic and laboratory evidence indicates that ground beef is the likely source of this outbreak.
- Ill people in this outbreak report eating ground beef at home and in restaurants.
- Laboratory testing identified the outbreak strain of E. coli O103 in a sample of ground beef collected from a location where ill people reported eating in Tennessee.
- Traceback investigations are ongoing to determine the source of ground beef supplied to grocery stores and other locations where ill people reported eating.
- Two companies have recalled ground beef products that were sold to restaurants and institutions because they may be contaminated with E. coli O103.
- At this time, no common supplier, distributor, or brand of ground beef has been identified that could account for the whole outbreak. Other products may be recalled.
- Restaurants, retailers, and institutions should not sell or serve recalled ground beef.
- CDC recommends that consumers and restaurants always handle ground beef safely and cook it thoroughly to avoid foodborne illness.
- CDC will provide updates as more information becomes available.
The Ohio Department of Health also provided these figures to 10TV.
- Ohio has 12 cases
- Hamilton County: 6
- Clermont County: 4
- Butler County: 1
- Montgomery County: 1
- 7 Male / 5 Female
- Ages: 2 years to 83 years
- Illness Onset: 03/09/2019 to 04/11/2019
- 2 Hospitalized
- 0 Deaths