In a nutshell: 38 people in 5 states may have been sickened with food poisoning after consuming fresh ground beef from Safeway supermarkets.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is issuing a public health alert due to illnesses from Salmonella Newport associated with fresh ground beef products contaminated with multi-drug resistant Salmonella that may have been ground and sold at Safeway supermarkets in Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada and New Mexico between Sept. 19 and Nov. 5, 2007.

This public health alert was initiated after epidemiological investigations and a case control study conducted by the California Department of Public Health, Arizona Department of Health Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, determined that there is an association between the fresh ground beef products and 38 illnesses reported in Arizona (16), California (18), Idaho (1) and Nevada (3). The illnesses were linked through the epidemiological investigation by their rare PFGE pattern found in PulseNet, a database maintained by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

This alert is being issued after an exhaustive and continuing investigation whereby FSIS could not identify specific establishments, lots and products that would be subject to a recall. FSIS has no reason to believe that these products are still available for sale in commerce.

Consumers that may have purchased these fresh ground beef products between Sept. 19 and Nov. 5, 2007, and stored them in the freezer should look for and discard or destroy these products if they find them.

FSIS would like to remind consumers of the importance of following food safety guidelines when handling and preparing raw meat. Ground beef should be cooked to a safe minimum internal temperature of 160° Fahrenheit.

This particular strain of Salmonella is resistant to many commonly prescribed drugs, which can increase the risk of hospitalization or possible treatment failure in infected individuals.

Consumption of food contaminated with Salmonella can cause salmonellosis, one of the most common bacterial foodborne illnesses. Salmonella infections can be life-threatening, especially to those with weak immune systems, such as infants, the elderly and persons with HIV infection or undergoing chemotherapy. The most common manifestations of salmonellosis are diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever within eight to 72 hours. Additional symptoms may be chills, headache, nausea and vomiting that can last up to seven days.

 


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