Usually, when the number 57 is associated with beef, it refers to ketchup with your hamburger, sauce on your steak, not salmonella. But 57 salmonella illnesses have led to the recall of 6,500,966 pounds of beef by JBS Tolleson, an Arizona branch of JBS USA.
According to the USDA recall notice product list, the possibly contaminated beef carries USDA inspection code “EST 267” and was sold to retail outlets and institutions in chubs under eight names: Showcase/Walmart, Showcase, Gourmet Burger, JBS Generic, Comnor Perfect Choice, Cedar River Farms, Cedar River Farms Natural Beef and Grass Run Farms Natural Beef.
But, some of the beef turned out to perhaps a little too natural.
The beef was packaged at JBS from July 26 through Sept. 7. Because retailers often repackage beef and consumers often put beef in storage bags before freezing with no reason to retain the labeling from the store, Consumer Reports advised U.S. consumers refrain from eating beef in their freezers bought from mid-July through the end of September until the retail list is released.
The 16-state breakdown of salmonella illnesses from the Centers for Disease Control indicates a western United States concentration. Of the 57 illnesses, 37 are in Arizona (15), Colorado (12), Utah (six) and California (four). The Ohio River clump of states -- Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois -- account for the five easternmost illnesses.
The USDA recall notice says its Food Safety Inspection Service learned of an investigation into salmonella illnesses from different products on Sept. 5.
“The first store receipt potentially linking the purchase of FSIS-regulated product to a case-patient was received on Sept. 19, 2018,” the USDA writes. “FSIS was then able to begin traceback of ground beef products. To date, eight case-patients have provided receipts or shopper card numbers, which have enabled product traceback investigations.”
Conclusion: raw ground beef was the source of the sicknesses.
“Traceback has identified JBS as the common supplier of the ground beef products,” the USDA said. “The epidemiological investigation has identified 57 case-patients from 16 states with illness onset dates ranging from Aug. 5 to Sept. 6, 2018.”
Salmonella usually hits within three days of eating contaminated food or handling it with bare hands and without proper handwashing. Usually, it goes away on its own after four to seven days of diarrhea, stomachaches and fever. Hospitalization occurs in about 1.9 percent of cases, usually caused by unusually bloody diarrhea. A miniscule number of patients, about 0.04 percent, die from salmonella. Senior citizens and children under 5 are the most vulnerable to salmonella’s worst effects.
Anyone with the recalled beef in their refrigerator or freezer should toss it out or return it to the place of purchase for refund. Those with questions can call JBS at 800-727-2333.