What you need to know to stay healthy.
Attention grocery shoppers: You may want to clean out your freezer and wash your fridge if you’ve brought home any meat in the past few weeks.
Nearly 7 million pounds of raw beef have been voluntarily recalled after 57 cases of salmonella were reported in 16 states, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced last week. At least 14 people have been hospitalized.
The massive recall comes after 89,000 pounds of ready-to-heat ham were pulled off the shelves due to a possible Listeria contamination that left four people sickened and one person dead.
Just before that, a salmonella outbreak from cage-free large eggs left nearly 40 people ill.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is urging consumers to toss the infected items immediately, as salmonella and listeriosis are two foodborne illnesses that shouldn’t be taken lightly.
The infected ham products were produced at Johnston County Hams between April 3, 2017, and Oct. 2, 2018. They have the establishment number EST. M2646 on the packaging inside the USDA inspection mark.
They were shipped to distributors in Maryland, North Carolina, New York, South Carolina, and Virginia.
When it comes to the beef, the contaminated products were packaged by Arizona meat producer JBS Tolleson Inc. between July 26, 2018, and Sept. 7, 2018. These items contain the establishment number EST. 267 inside the USDA inspection mark. They were shipped to stores nationwide.
The recalled eggs were sourced from Gravel Ridge Farms in Alabama and have the UPC code 7-06970-38444-6 and best-if-used-by dates of July 25, 2018, through Oct. 3, 2018.
They were sold in grocery stores and to restaurants in Alabama, Georgia, and Tennessee.
The bacteria are transmitted through contaminated foods, such as chicken, beef, eggs, and raw produce. Most people who contract Salmonella experience nausea, diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps within 12 to 72 hours of eating the contaminated food.
In most cases, symptoms will clear up within a week without treatment. But in more severe cases, antibiotics and hospitalization may be necessary.
“Diarrhea and vomiting can lead to dehydration and electrolyte abnormalities, and, at times, patients may need to be admitted to the hospital for IV hydration,” Dr. Elizabeth Polsinelli, an internal medicine physician with Tenet Florida Physician Services in Boca Raton, told Healthline.
Listeria, on the other hand, is much rarer than Salmonella. While these bacteria only account for 1 percent of outbreaks, it’s responsible for 52 percent of food-poisoning deaths, making it one of the deadliest foodborne illnesses.
Symptoms of listeriosis are similar to those of other foodborne illnesses. They include fever, muscle aches, diarrhea, headache, stiff neck, confusion, and even convulsions.
People with invasive listeriosis — which occurs when the bacteria spreads beyond the gut — may start to experience symptoms one to four weeks after eating Listeria-contaminated food.
In fact, some report symptoms as late as 70 days after eating the contaminated food, the CDC reports.
“While most cases of foodborne illnesses resolve without medication, Salmonella and Listeria infections have the ability to spread from the GI tract to infect the bloodstream and lead to a more serious condition called sepsis,” said.
In these cases, emergency medical evaluation is required, as salmonella and l
Additionally, young children, women who are pregnant, and individuals who have advanced kidney disease or a weakened immune system have a much higher risk of developing more serious complications.
As foodborne illnesses can sometimes be lethal, it’s crucial to stay informed and up to date on all the latest recalls.
“Salmonella is sneaky. You can’t see it, you can’t smell it, and it doesn’t change the taste of your food. It’s not until you start experiencing symptoms that you find out you’ve been exposed to it,” Dr. Megan Butler, a family medicine physician with Ochsner Health System in New Orleans, Louisiana, said.
Pay attention to the news and check the CDC or USDA for information about foodborne illnesses and which products to avoid.
Check the product label, specifically the sell-by date and package code. If you suspect a product is contaminated, throw it away or return it to where it was purchased.
Be careful about what you order while dining out, Butler advises. Don’t be afraid to ask the restaurant staff if their food products have been checked for contamination.
Avoid undercooked or raw meat products, and, when in doubt, always wash your hands.
“Hand-washing is the easiest way to prevent the spread of infection,” Butler said. “Make a habit of washing your hands with warm water and soap before eating, after using the restroom, and when your hands are visibly dirty.”
If you suspect you may have ingested a recalled product, pay attention to your gastrointestinal symptoms, seek medical care, and let your healthcare provider know you may have come in contact with food-poisoning bacteria.
Sure, these tips may seem like common sense. But it’s best to be vigilant about recalled food items and stay on top of your health. Because when it comes to foodborne illnesses, health experts agree it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Nearly 7 million pounds of raw beef have been recalled after 57 cases of salmonella were reported in 16 states, according to USDA.
Additionally, another recall led to 89,000 pounds of ready-to-heat ham being pulled off the shelves due to a possible Listeria contamination — and, just before that, a salmonella outbreak from cage-free large eggs left nearly 40 people ill.
Experts say you should pay attention to the news and check the CDC or USDA for information about foodborne illnesses and which products to avoid.
If you suspect a product is contaminated, check the product label, specifically the sell-by date and package code.
When dining out, don’t be afraid to ask the restaurant staff if their food products have been checked for contamination.