If you have recently purchased ground beef, you are going to want to check your freezers. According to Consumer Reports, a package of the Kroger-branded 93% lean ground beef bought from a Fred Meyer supermarket located in Seattle was recently found to be contaminated with E. coli.
The tested package of ground beef, which was bought on December 30, bears the EST. number “EST. 965” and also has a “use or freeze by” date of 1/11/22. Harris Teeter, Ralphs, Dillons and Fred Meyer are among some of the grocery stores that sell the ground beef product.
While this product has not yet been recalled and there have been no illnesses reported, Consumer Reports’ food safety professionals advise shoppers to look at their ground beef products and throw away any beef packages with the same date or EST. number.
The Washington State Dept. of Agriculture, which is over meat safety, stated the agency was “continuing its investigation into this situation to locate all possible linked products that might be adulterated and in commerce and will begin action accordingly as soon as they can to protect public health.”
Additionally, Kristal Howard, a Kroger spokesperson, said the grocery chain has started its own investigation and they have contacted Interstate Meat, the business that supplied the store’s ground beef.
Consumer Reports’ testing was a part of an ongoing initiative to survey ground meats from several U.S. grocery stores. But, as a consumer, it is hard to know whether or not a meat product is contaminated with E. coli.
“The most concerning part of this is that consumers might have this ground beef stored away in their freezers, and very cold temperatures do not kill this bacteria,” says James E. Rogers, PhD., director of food research and safety testing at Consumer Reports. “And there is no way of knowing if the ground beef contains the harmful bacteria just by looking at it or smelling it.”
While symptoms of an E. coli infection vary from person to person, they often include fever, diarrhea, fatigue, stomach cramps and nausea, and they normally develop within five days. Anyone who has consumed the ground beef and developed these symptoms should seek immediate medical attention.