On July 2nd, The Kroger Co. expanded its voluntary recall of some ground beef products to its stores in more than 20 states, saying the meat may be contaminated with E. coli. The nation’s largest traditional grocer also urged customers to check the ground beef in their refrigerators and freezers to determine whether it is covered by the recall. The warning came as federal investigators were trying to pinpoint the source of a separate salmonella outbreak linked to tomatoes that has sickened nearly 1000 people, raising more questions about the nation’s food safety system. Kroger’s recall stems from meat obtained from one of Kroger’s suppliers, Nebraska Beef Ltd., that has been linked to illnesses reported in Michigan and Ohio between May 31st and June 8th caused by E. coli bacteria. Nebraska Beef has recalled from wholesalers and other processing companies nearly 532,000 pounds of ground beef produced on five dates between May 16th and June 24th.
Symptoms of E. coli infection can include severe stomach cramps, diarrhea, vomiting and fever. It can potentially be deadly, but most people recover within five to seven days. Health officials urge people to thoroughly cook hamburger and, if possible, use a digital thermometer to make sure meat has been heated to at least 160 degrees. They also recommend that people wash their hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds before and after handling food.
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