Target and Aldi shoppers are encouraged to throw out certain ground beef products purchased at these stores as they may be contaminated with E. coli traced back to a Cargill plant last week.
The food safety division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) on Tuesday published an updated list of retailers that received meat products from Cargill’s slaughterhouse and meatpacking facility in Fort Morgan, Colo., that may have been exposed to E. coli.
Last week, Minnetonka-based Cargill and the USDA recalled more than 132,000 pounds of ground beef. Initially, the federal agency and Cargill didn’t know where all the meat went after it was sold to a distributor. Consumers were told to look for an establishment number — EST. 86R — found on the ground beef’s packaging, inside the USDA mark of inspection.
The full list of retailers includes Target stores nationwide and Aldi stores across the Midwest, including in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa.
At least 17 people were sickened and one person died in Florida after eating beef that came from the plant. All 18 cases occurred in July and spanned four states: Florida, Colorado, Tennessee and Massachusetts. Most of the cases were in Florida with ground beef purchased from various Publix supermarkets, according to the Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) investigation.
The CDC now believes the outbreak is over. But the organization advises consumers to check any ground beef product bought at these stores that may be in their freezer.
The affected beef was also distributed to Meijer and Albertson’s/Safeway stores nationwide, as well as a number of regional and independent retailers.
Not all ground beef bought at these stores is affected. Consumers are urged to either return or throw away any product bearing the EST. 86R number. Investigators say consumers should call the store where they purchased the product to check if their beef is affected. Consumers can also call 1-844-419-1574 for additional questions about the outbreak.
“None of the recalled products remain in our stores or supply chain,” a Target spokeswoman said Wednesday. The recall affected three ground beef items sold at 1,580 Target stores nationwide, all with an expiration date of July 18, 2018. Minneapolis-based Target echoed USDA’s suggestion to dispose of any affected product still in freezers or to contact Target’s guest relations for a full refund.
Most types of E. coli live within the intestines of both humans and animals and are harmless. But several strains — including E. coli 026, the one found in Cargill’s ground beef — are pathogenic and pose serious human health risks.
Symptoms usually surface within a week of consuming contaminated foods. Most people develop diarrhea, often bloody, and vomiting. More serious infections can lead to a type of kidney failure.
Cargill said last week it is conducting both internal and external investigations into the processing protocols at the Fort Morgan plant.