Possible E. Coli Contamination: Ground Beef Recalled

In January 2022, more than 28,000 pounds of ground beef from store brands like WinCo, Albertsons, and Walmart were recalled.

On JaOn January 6, 2022, the Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service announced a recall of 28,356 pounds of ground beef. The affected beef may have been contaminated with E. coli O157:H7, a strain of the bacterium Escherichia coli that can lead to serious illness.

The company issuing the recall, Interstate Meat Dist. Inc., produced the impacted raw ground beef on December 20, 2021. The items were then shipped to Arizona, California, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming retailers. 

Here's what you should know about the Department of Agriculture recall—including how some beef could become accidentally contaminated with E. coli, symptoms of infection, and what to do if you become sick.

Department of Agriculture Recalled Beef Over E. Coli Contamination in January 2022

The 11 impacted items were certain one- and three-pound chubs of ground beef from WinCo, Walmart, Kroger, and Albertsons. At the time of the recall, the Food Safety and Inspection Service provided a complete list of the impacted products—and pictures of the product labels.

The recalled items had an establishment number of "EST. 965." Consumers could find that number either inside the Department of Agriculture mark of inspection or next to the time stamp and use or freeze by date. All of the recalled products also had a use or freeze-by date of January 11, 2022.

The USDA urged consumers with any of the affected products not to eat them and either throw them away or return them to the place of purchase. 

A third party reported the issue to the Department of Agriculture after someone bought the ground beef and submitted it to a laboratory for analysis. Because the sample tested positive for E. coli O157:H7, the Department of Agriculture assessed and found that the test results were accurate.

Symptoms of E. Coli Infection

Infection from E. coli O157:H7 can be a big deal. People who eat contaminated products can develop the following symptoms:

  • Severe stomach cramps
  • Diarrhea (usually bloody)
  • Vomiting
  • Fever

While most people get better within five to seven days, some can develop severe or life-threatening infections. Infections can include a type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). HUS causes easy bruising, pallor (an ashen appearance), and decreased urine output.  

"The most vulnerable population includes the very young, elderly, pregnant women, and those with weakened immune systems," Darin Detwiler, LPD, associate professor of food safety at Northeastern University, told Health. "However, people of all ages and health status can be severely affected."

People who develop those symptoms should get emergency medical care as soon as possible.

How Does Beef Become Infected With E. Coli?

"E. coli is found in cows' large intestines, and the bacteria are shed through their feces," Candice Christian, MPH, a consumer and retail food safety expert at North Carolina State University, told Health. "Sometimes in slaughterhouses, the meat can be cross-contaminated with manure."

Christian said that E. coli O157:H7 dies off when the cooking temperature reaches 160 degrees. But it's best to play it safe and toss or return a product recalled over contamination concerns.

What To Do If You Become Sick

If you happen to get sick and you suspect it's due to E. coli, Detwiler recommended doing the following:

  • Hydrate well: Replace electrolytes with drinks like Gatorade or Pedialyte.
  • Don't take anti-diarrheal medications: "They can lengthen the duration of infection and may also increase the risk of HUS," Detwiler said.
  • Don't take antibiotics: Antibiotics may increase the risk of developing severe disease.
  • Protect other family members: E. coli may spread by person-to-person transmission. So, washing your hands well after using the bathroom or changing diapers is essential. Also, avoid preparing food for others. "Person-to-person transmission is a common cause of infection for young children," Detwiler said. "This is how my son became sick and ultimately died in 1993."

Call your healthcare provider if your symptoms aren't improving after several days or seem to be getting worse.

A Quick Review

In January 2022, the Department of Agriculture recalled more than 28,000 pounds of ground beef from store brands like WinCo, Albertsons, and Walmart. The affected meat was contaminated with E. coli.

Consuming foods infected with E. coli can lead to severe illness, including vomiting, bloody diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever. In some cases, illness can progress into kidney infections.

If you become ill after eating contaminated meat, ensure that you stay hydrated, don't take antidiarrheals or antibiotics, and stay away from other family members to avoid spreading the bacterium. 

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Health.com uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Symptoms.

  3. Godwin S, Maughan C, Chambers E. Food Safety: Recommendations for Determining Doneness in Consumer Egg Dish Recipes and Measurement of Endpoint Temperatures When Recipes Are FollowedFoods. 2016;5(3):45. doi:10.3390/foods5030045

  4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Questions and answers.

  5. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. E. coli infection.

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