What you need to know about Walmart's massive ground beef recall

A potential E. coli contamination has triggered the recall of almost 43,000 pounds of ground beef that were shipped to supermarkets across the country, including Walmart, where the Marketside Butcher label is sold. The recall involves both ground beef patties and fresh ground beef produced on June 1 by Lakeside Refrigerated Services in New Jersey (via CNN).

The recall order, which was issued by the Department of Agriculture, includes beef marketed under the labels Marketside Butcher Organic Grass-Fed Ground Beef and Ground Beef Patties; Thomas Farms Grass-Fed Ground Beef and Ground Beef Patties; and Value Pack Fresh Ground Beef. The products have the establishment number EST. 46841 which can be found within the USDA inspection mark, but have different use or freeze by dates and lot codes. The recall is considered a Class I which the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) notes that this means the product "is a health hazard situation where there is a reasonable probability that the use of the product will cause serious, adverse health consequences or death."

In a statement to Mashed, Walmart said it "is committed to providing our customers with safe, high-quality products at our everyday low prices." The statement continues, "As soon as we were notified by Thomas Foods of the recall, we immediately began the process of alerting our stores and distribution centers to remove the affected product from our store shelves and inventory, including a sales restriction. Customers who have purchased the items identified in the recall should dispose of the product and return to their nearest Walmart for a full refund."

While the matter is urgent, the FSIS has said the contamination was discovered during routine testing, and that there "have been no confirmed reports of adverse reactions due to consumption of these products."

An E. coli infection can be life-threatening

The type of E-coli identified in the recall sickens humans by producing what is known as Shiga toxin, and while most infections can be mild, a few can be life-threatening. Symptoms of what is called an STEC (Shiga toxin E-coli) infection include stomach cramps, diarrhea, and vomiting. Of the estimated 265,000 cases of Shiga toxin infections that happen every year, 36 percent are caused by the particular E-coli bacteria that triggered the latest ground beef recall. In its notice, the FSIS describes the culprit E-coli as "a potentially deadly bacterium that can cause dehydration, bloody diarrhea and abdominal cramps two to eight days (three to four days, on average) after exposure the organism. While most people recover within a week, some develop a type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome."

Before you do anything, the FSIS wants you to make sure that the recalled products are not sitting in your fridge or freezer. They should either be thrown away, or brought back to Walmart or the grocery store where you purchased the meat product as soon as possible.