Salmonella Outbreak Triggers Ground Beef Recall

A recent announcement by Cargill Beef states that it has issued a recall for thousands of pounds of ground beef that was produced at its Wyalusing, PA, plant on May 25, 2012. The beef is linked to a seven-state Salmonella outbreak noted in the Northeast and parts of Virginia.

Salmonella beef recallThe recall covers almost 30,000 pounds of 85 percent lean, fresh, ground beef produced by Cargill Beef and sold in New England. The ground beef made its way from the processing plant to Maine-based grocery retailer, Hannaford, and then into local stores located in Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York and Vermont.

Reports of Salmonella poisoning triggered a USDA Food Safety and Inspection investigation. Investigators were alerted to 33 cases of Salmonella sickness in seven states. Working in conjunction with the Centers for Disease Control ( and several state agencies including the New York State Department of Health, the source of the bacteria was traced to the Cargill processing facility.

While no deaths have been reported, the early June 2012 outbreak required at least two patients to be hospitalized with sickness. Salmonella poisoning is one of the most common food borne bacterial illnesses and can be life-threatening to those with weak immune systems such as children and the elderly. By testing leftover product samples, the investigators were able to identify the specific strain and have assured the public that this bacteria is responsive to antibiotic therapy.

John Keating, Cargill Beef president, issued a statement saying, “Ensuring our beef products are safe is our highest priority and an investigation is underway to determine the source of Salmonella in the animals we purchased for harvest and any actions necessary to prevent this from recurring.”

Cargill is no stranger to recalls of its meat products, having issued at least three recalls since 2009 for ground turkey or ground beef products. Last year it was forced to recall 36 million pounds of ground turkey which were also linked to Salmonella contamination. This latest recall affects nearly 30,000 pounds of ground beef product.

Cargill Beef, which is owned by Wichita-based Cargill Meat Solutions, in Kansas, is one of the largest beef processors in North America, producing almost seven billion pounds of beef and beef by-products every year. The affected product was produced in 14-pound packages for sale to retailers, who in turn repackaged the ground beef into smaller, consumer-sized portions.

Consumers are urged to verify the “use or sell by” dates on any beef products which may be stored in freezers. Dates between May 29 and June 16, 2012 should not be consumed. Additionally, the packaging may list the establishment number “EST. 9400” inside the USDA seal of inspection. For its part, Hannaford has offered a refund for those beef products which are returned.