Everything We Know About The Massive Beef Recall

Where's the beef? That line from a classic 1980s Wendy's television commercial (seen on YouTube) may take on whole new meaning in grocery stores as a massive beef recall temporarily curtails distribution. According to Delish, Nebraska-based Greater Omaha Packing is recalling almost 300,000 pounds of meat due to potential E. coli contamination. The recall, announced July 29, includes 38 different beef products including angus chuck meat, beef ribs, and boneless shank steaks distributed in Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, and Nebraska. 

Products subject to recall show establishment number EST. 960A on the label. The recall stems from a routine inspection by the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service. So far, there are no reported incidents of E.coli related to items in the recall. FSIS advises anyone in possession of beef products bearing establishment number EST 960A to immediately dispose of them or return them to the place of purchase for a full refund. The recall notice did not include a list of places where the affected products were sold (via USA Today).

E. coli can lead to a potentially serious illness

The USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service says symptoms of E. coli infection include dehydration, bloody diarrhea, and abdominal cramps. Adverse effects last an average of three to four days after exposure, but can extend as long as eight days. Infection is most common in children under 5 and in older adults as well as those with compromised immune systems. In extreme cases, exposure to E. coli can lead to kidney problems. By following safety protocols such as guidelines for maintaining food temperature, it can be one way to avoid food-borne infections like E. coli. FSIS advises consumers to cook beef to at least 145 degrees Fahrenheit (and 160 degrees Fahrenheit for ground beef).

In an overview of E. coli outbreaks in the United States, CNN cites Centers of Disease Control data that estimates there are about 265,000 cases of STEC (a common strain of E.coli) each year. Outbreaks of the food-borne infection have been traced to pre-packaged spinach, cheese, and nut butters, among other food items. A 2018 outbreak traced to Romaine lettuce infected 210 people in 36 states and caused five deaths. A second wave later that year sickened 62 people in 16 states.

For questions about the latest beef recall, consumers can call a toll-free USDA Hotline at 1-888-674-6854 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET weekdays, per USA Today. A list of all the products affected can also be found on the FSIS website.