In late June of 2008, the Michigan and Ohio departments of health and agriculture investigated E. coli outbreaks among state residents. Pulsed field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) analysis of the E. coli strain isolated from ill individuals’ stool samples was determined to be genetically indistinguishable, and through further investigation Michigan and Ohio health officials, along with investigators from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) determined that the source of the E. coli outbreak was ground beef purchased at Kroger stores.
On July 18, 2008 the CDC announced that 49 confirmed E. coli O157:H7 cases had been linked both epidemiologically and by molecular fingerprinting to the consumption of ground beef products produced with Nebraska Beef meat. The number of cases in each state was reported to be: Georgia (4), Indiana (1), Kentucky (1), Michigan (20), New York (1), Ohio (21), and Utah (1). Their illnesses began between May 27 and July 1, 2008. Twenty-seven persons had been hospitalized, and one patient was known to have developed a type of kidney failure called hemolytic-uremic syndrome (HUS). No deaths had been reported.
Kroger subsequently recalled an undetermined amount of ground beef products sold at Fred Meyer, QFC, Kroger, Fry’s, Ralph’s, Smith’s, Baker’s, King Soopers, City Market, Hilander, Owen’s, Pay Less, Scott’s, Dillons, and Gerbes. Nebraska Beef initiated two recalls of meat sold to Kroger and other retailers and establishments. The first recall included 5.3 million pounds of potentially E. coli-contaminated meat intended for use in ground beef production. The second Nebraska Beef recall included 1.36 million pounds of meat after a cluster of Boston illnesses was traced to Whole Foods, whose processor, Coleman Natural Meats, purchased the meat from Nebraska Beef. As many as 30 E. coli cases were reported in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Idaho, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Canada in association with the August recall.
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