An outbreak of Salmonella Typhimurium that has sickened at least 16 people in five states has been linked to ground beef sold by two retail stores in Michigan, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said Monday.
An ongoing investigation by the CDC, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), and a number of state health officials has identified the source of the contaminated beef as Jouni Meats Inc. of Sterling Heights, Mich. and Gab Halal Foods in Troy, Mich.
Seven of the 16 people (six Michigan residents and one Arizonan) known to have been sickened by the ground beef reported eating kibbeh – a Middle Eastern specialty often made with raw ground beef, from a Michigan restaurant on December 7 or 8. The other nine people sickened – one from Iowa, two from Illinois, and three from Wisconsin, did not eat at the Michigan restaurant.
Ages of those stricken by the outbreak ranged from 2 to 87. DNA fingerprinting confirmed the presence of an identical strain of Salmonella bacteria in all 16 people infected. No deaths have been blamed on the current outbreak, but more than half (53 percent) of the 13 patients for whom data was available required hospitalization for their illness.
The numbers of those infected could rise because of lag time between illness onset and the time the illness reported, usually two to three weeks, the CDC cautioned.
Jouni Meats recalled 500 pounds of ground meat products and Gab Halal Foods recalled 550 pounds products. Both stores sold unlabeled packages of ground beef directly to consumers and to Michigan restaurants in varying weights.
Anyone who suspects they have purchased the tainted meat should discard it or return it to the store it came from, the CDC advises. The agency also warns against eating raw and undercooked meat.
Consuming food tainted with Salmonella bacteria usually results in diarrhea, vomiting, fever, and abdominal cramps. Symptoms develop 12 to 72 hours after infection and usually last from four to seven days. Older adults, infants, and those who have impaired immune systems are at highest risk for complications and death.
According to the CDC, there are an estimated 9.4 million foodborne illnesses in the U.S. every year. From 2009–2010, a total of 1,527 foodborne disease outbreaks (675 in 2009 and 852 in 2010) were reported, resulting in 29,444 cases of illness, 1,184 hospitalizations, and 23 deaths. Salmonella accounted for about 30 percent of the outbreaks, according to CDC records.