A total of 12.1 million pounds of beef have been recalled by JBS Tolleson as of Tuesday, when the Arizona company recalled an additional 5.1 million pounds due to fears that the product could be contaminated with salmonella. As many as 246 people from 25 different states have already become ill due to the contaminated beef since August 5, and 59 people have been hospitalized as a result.
This recall, which began in October, is one of the largest in recent history.
"This was already the largest recall of beef in history due to salmonella contamination and proves that we need the USDA to declare for antibiotic-resistant salmonella an adulterant to prevent these hazardous foods from getting onto stores shelves," Viveth Karthikeyan of the nonpartisan U.S. Public Interest Research Group tells USA Today.
The beef in question is packaged and sold under a variety of brand names, including Cedar River Farms Natural Beef and Gourmet Burger. The meat has been sold at stores nationwide including at chains like Kroger, Sam’s Club, and Walmart. It was produced and packed between July 26 and September 7, 2018, and can be identified by the company identification number EST. 267 printed on the package.
The USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) reports concerns that consumers may have stored contaminated product in their freezers, leading them to overlook possible health risks.
"A lot of people put hamburger in the freezer and you have an initial outbreak, and months later I've had clients call and say they got sick because they actually put the hamburger in their freezer and cooked it later," Bill Marler, a Seattle food safety attorney, tells USA Today.
This is not the first recall for the company; in November, JBS Tolleson recalled over 99,000 pounds of ground beef due to a possible E. coli contamination.
The CDC estimates that salmonella causes about 1.2 million illnesses every year. The bacteria usually causes diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps. For many, it clears up without medical attention, but young children, adults over 65, and people with weakened immune systems can be more vulnerable to serious illness.
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