In a recent announcement on December 22, 2023, the US Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) declared a recall on ground beef products from Scanga Meat Company, based in Salida, Colorado. The recall is due to potential contamination with E. coli O103, affecting approximately 563 pounds of products.
This unsettling news brings attention to the paramount importance of food safety, particularly concerning a widely consumed staple like ground beef.
II. Recall Details
A. Source of Contamination
The contamination source was traced back to the production date of December 11, 2023, raising concerns about the quality control measures in place.
B. Quantity and Types of Recalled Products
The recall includes various products like 6-lb. plastic tubes labeled as “It’s a treat to eat Scanga Meat OUR REGULAR GROUND BEEF” and “OUR X-L GROUND BEEF,” along with 1-lb. plastic chubs and trays bearing the label “SCANGA MEAT HAMBURGER” and “It’s a treat to eat Scanga Meat GROUND ROUND.”
C. Lot Codes and Labeling Information
Consumers are urged to scrutinize the lot code 3345 on the labels of the affected products, emphasizing the importance of verifying their purchases.
III. Identification of Contaminated Products
A. Description of 6-lb. Plastic Tubes
The 6-lb. plastic tubes represent a significant portion of the recall. Consumers are urged to check for the distinct labels and lot code to ensure they don’t unwittingly consume the contaminated products.
B. Description of 1-lb. Plastic Chubs and Trays
Additionally, 1-lb. plastic chubs and trays with the specific labeling should be examined closely to identify any potential hazards.
C. Establishment Number and USDA Mark
Products bearing the establishment number “EST. 6460” inside the USDA mark of inspection are part of the recall, emphasizing the need for vigilance in product identification.
IV. Discovery of Contamination
A. FSIS Routine Testing
The contamination was brought to light through routine FSIS testing, underscoring the significance of regular checks to maintain food safety.
B. Presence of E. coli O103
The sampling results revealed the presence of E. coli O103, a concerning discovery prompting immediate action.
C. Lack of Reported Illnesses
Fortunately, as of now, there have been no confirmed reports of illnesses stemming from the consumption of these products, offering a degree of reassurance.
V. Consumer Guidance
A. Urgent Warning to Consumers and Restaurants
Consumers and restaurants are urgently warned against consuming or serving the affected products to prevent potential health risks.
B. Disposal or Return of Affected Products
Affected products should be promptly disposed of or returned to the place of purchase to mitigate any further health hazards.
C. Importance of Recall Effectiveness Checks
FSIS emphasizes the significance of recall effectiveness checks to ensure swift and thorough notifications to consumers and the removal of the product from circulation.
VI. Safe Meat Preparation
A. FSIS Advice on Preparing Raw Meat
In light of the recall, FSIS advises consumers to exercise caution when handling raw meat products, both fresh and frozen.
B. Recommended Cooking Temperature
To ensure the elimination of harmful bacteria, ground beef should be cooked to an internal temperature of 160 F, as highlighted in the FSIS safety temperature chart.
C. Use of Food Thermometers
The use of a food thermometer is strongly recommended to confirm that ground beef reaches the necessary temperature for safe consumption.
VII. Contact Information
A. Ben Scanga’s Contact Details
Consumers with concerns or inquiries can reach out to Ben Scanga, the President of Scanga Meat Company, at 719-539-3511 or via email at email@example.com.
B. USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline Information
For additional support, consumers can contact the toll-free USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 888-MPHotline (888-674-6854) or submit questions via email to MPHotline@usda.gov.
C. Online Reporting Options
For those needing to report problems with meat, poultry, or egg products, the online Electronic Consumer Complaint Monitoring System is available 24/7 at https://foodcomplaint.fsis.usda.gov/eCCF/.
VIII. Additional Information
A. Non-O157 STEC Testing Challenges
Many clinical laboratories face challenges in testing for non-O157 STEC, such as O103, due to its increased difficulty in identification compared to STEC O157:H7.
B. Symptoms and Timeline of STEC O103 Infection
People may experience symptoms of STEC O103 infection 2–8 days after consumption, with some developing diarrhea (often bloody) and vomiting. Vigorous rehydration is the usual treatment, as antibiotic treatment is generally not recommended.
C. Rare Complications: Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS)
While rare, complications like Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS) can occur, especially in children under 5 years old, older adults, and those with weakened immune systems. Prompt medical attention is essential for symptoms like easy bruising, pallor, and decreased urine output.
In conclusion, the recall underscores the critical importance of stringent food safety measures. Consumers are urged to adhere to the guidelines provided by the FSIS, ensuring the safe handling and consumption of meat products.