Salmonella outbreak across four US states traced to ground beef: CDC

This representational picture shows an illustration of the salmonella bacteria. — Unsplash/File

Beef is a popular protein source in the US, whether it’s a lean cut or minced but experts have found a salmonella outbreak, particularly in ground beef, in some of the states so if you live there, you should be cautious before consuming it.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a warning on Tuesday that a salmonella outbreak spanning multiple states has been traced back to ground beef.

The CDC reported a total of 16 illnesses, with six hospitalisations due to the consumption of ground beef.

The cases are scattered across four states with nine in New Jersey, five in New York, and one each in Connecticut and Massachusetts while, no fatalities have been associated with consuming ground beef.

“The true number of sick people in this outbreak is also likely much higher than the number reported,” the CDC said. “This is because many people recover without medical care and are not tested for salmonella.”

After the first case was reported on April 27, health officials conducted interviews with 14 patients to determine their food intake in the week before they fell ill and found that nine of them had consumed ground beef, as per the CDC.

The nine patients who fell ill had bought beef from ShopRite stores in Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York and it was the only food they had in common as reported in their interviews.

Out of the nine individuals, seven stated that they purchased ground beef with 80% lean content while the remaining two individuals who procured ground beef from ShopRite could not recollect the exact type.

Meanwhile, the investigators are still in the process of determining the origin of the ground beef that caused illness among the affected individuals.

It’s important to be aware that ground beef can often carry salmonella, as the bacteria can reside in the intestines of animals and can easily spread through contaminated food, water, surfaces used for food preparation, and unwashed hands.

To prevent the spread of salmonella, it’s recommended to cook ground beef to an internal temperature of at least 160 Fahrenheit, which will effectively kill any germs present, CBS reported.

The health agency advises that to reduce salmonella outbreaks in ground beef, interventions are necessary at various stages, including farms, slaughterhouses, processing facilities, restaurants, and homes.

When shopping at the store, it is important to follow safety guidelines recommended by the CDC which includes keeping raw ground beef away from other food items in your cart and grocery bags.

Additionally, once you are back at home, it is important to store the beef in a sealed container or leak-proof bag on the lowest shelf of the fridge or freezer. By following these steps, you can ensure that your food stays fresh and safe to consume.

Wash any utensils and surfaces, including your hands, that come into contact with raw beef with soap and water.

Each year in the US, approximately 1.35 million people become infected with Salmonella bacteria, resulting in 26,500 hospitalisations and 420 deaths, according to the CDC.

Symptoms of this infection include diarrhoea, fever, and stomach cramps and typically appear within six hours to six days after infection and can last for four to seven days.