While health officials aren't currently advising consumers to stop eating ground beef, a recent outbreak of a deadly bacteria has them cautioning the public to ensure it is cook thoroughly before consumption. A multistate Salmonella outbreak linked to ground beef has led to the death of one person and has hospitalized eight others, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported. The federal agency also notes that it's seeing illnesses within this specific outbreak that are more severe than typically expected for Salmonella infections.
At least 10 people spread across six states are reported to have been infected with the strain of Salmonella Dublin since early August, according to a CDC investigation into the outbreak. While no one supplier has been identified, the CDC has reported that epidemiologic and laboratory evidence indicated "ground beef might be contaminated with Salmonella Dublin and is making people sick."
At least one case of infection has been reported in Texas, Oklahoma, and Iowa, while two people were reported to have contracted Salmonella in both California and Kansas. In Colorado, the CDC has reported three confirmed cases. One of the two reported Salmonella cases in California resulted in death, according to ABC News. No children are reported to have been impacted by the outbreak. The CDC noted that the 10 people reported to have contracted Salmonella have ranged in age from 48 to 74 years old.
On Friday, the CDC announced that laboratory testing had found Salmonella Dublin in leftover ground beef collected from the home of someone who had fell ill in California. The same strain of Salmonella Dublin was also reported to have been found in six samples of raw beef products taken from unidentified slaughter and processing establishments.
Perhaps most worrisome is the fact that this outbreak of the Salmonella Dublin strain appears to have resulted in more severe illnesses and a much higher rate of hospitalization than traditionally expected for Salmonella infections. Healthy people typically recover without treatment for Salmonella, which may cause diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps some eight to 72 hours after ingesting contaminated food, according to the Mayo Clinic.
However, the Salmonella Dublin strain behind this outbreak may wreak more havoc, according to the CDC. "Typically, Salmonella Dublin illnesses are more severe because they can cause bloodstream infections, which are serious and require hospitalization," the CDC noted in its report. The agency stated that while the usual hospitalization rate for Salmonella infection is 20%, this outbreak has seen a hospitalization rate of 89%.
Despite the outbreak, the CDC is not advising against purchasing or consuming ground beef provided it has been thoroughly cooked to an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit and properly stored. Additionally, health officials recommend washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds after handling raw meat and thoroughly cleaning any utensil, dish, countertop, or cutting board that may have come into contact with the raw meat with hot, soapy water.
It is also recommended to keep raw meat separate from any foods that won't be cooked before eating — that means using a different cutting board or surface for preparing raw meats than you do for cutting raw vegetables, fruit, or breads. Finally, the CDC recommends refrigerating or freezing raw ground beef within two hours of purchasing it.