For the third time since Oct. 4, JBS Tolleson Inc. is expanding its beef recall, bringing the total to more than 12 million pounds. The beef is associated with a Salmonella outbreak that has sickened almost 250 people since August.

Traceback investigators have found that three confirmed patients had JBS ground beef products that were not part of the Oct. 4 recall. Federal and state disease detectives are continuing their traceability investigation and will post additional recalls if necessary.

Public health officials say consumers should check their homes for the recalled ground beef and other “non-intact” raw beef. The recall expansion, posted about 2:30 a.m. (EST) today by the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), adds more than 5 million pounds of beef to the recall by the Tolleson, AZ, subsidiary of Brazil’s mega-multinational company JBS. 

“The scope of this recall expansion now includes an additional 5,156,076 pounds of raw beef products, which were produced and packed from July 26, 2018, to Sept. 7, 2018. FSIS is concerned that some product may be frozen and in consumers’ freezers. These products should be thrown away or returned to the place of purchase,” the recall notice states.

“The products subject to recall bear establishment number ‘EST. 267’ inside the USDA mark of inspection. These items were shipped to retail locations and institutions nationwide.”

Dozens and dozens of specific JBS products are already included in the recall. They were shipped to retailers and distributors nationwide. The FSIS has posted and is updating product lists and lists of specific retailers that received the recalled beef.

When JBS launched its initial recall on Oct. 4 on the USDA’s website, there were 54 people in 12 states who had been confirmed with infections from Salmonella Newport, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s outbreak announcement, which was also posted on Oct. 4.

On Nov. 15, the CDC reported 254 people across 25 states had been confirmed with the outbreak strain of Salmonella. Of the 168 people for whom the information has been reported, 59 had to be admitted to hospitals. That’s a 35 percent hospitalization rate, which is higher than most Salmonella outbreaks. No deaths had been confirmed in connection with the outbreak, as of Nov. 15.

“Illnesses started on dates ranging from Aug. 5, 2018, to Oct. 16, 2018. Ill people range in age from less than one year to 88, with a median age of 38. Fifty-six percent are male,” according to the CDC’s most recent update on Nov. 15.”

Additional illnesses are likely to be confirmed because of the lag time between when a person is exposed to the bacteria and when their infection is diagnosed, confirmed, and reported to the CDC. The process can take four weeks or more. 

Advice for consumers
FSIS advises all consumers to safely prepare their raw meat products, including fresh and frozen, and only consume ground beef that has been cooked to a temperature of 160 degrees F. Other cuts of beef should be cooked to a temperature of 145 degrees F and allowed to rest for at least 3 minutes. The only way to confirm that ground beef or other cuts of beef are cooked to a temperature high enough to kill harmful bacteria is to use a food thermometer that measures the internal temperature.

Food that is contaminated with Salmonella bacteria usually does not look, smell or taste spoiled. Anyone can become sick with a Salmonella infection, but infants, children, seniors and people with weakened immune systems are at higher risk of serious illness because their immune systems are fragile, according to the CDC.

Anyone who has eaten any of the recalled products and developed symptoms of Salmonella infection should seek medical attention. Sick people should tell their doctors about the possible exposure to Salmonella bacteria because special tests are necessary to diagnose salmonellosis. Salmonella infection symptoms can mimic other illnesses, frequently leading to misdiagnosis.

Symptoms of Salmonella infection can include diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever within 12 to 72 hours after eating contaminated food. Otherwise healthy adults are usually sick for four to seven days. In some cases, however, diarrhea may be so severe that patients need to be hospitalized. 

Older adults, children, pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems, such as cancer patients, are more likely to develop a severe illness and serious, sometimes life-threatening conditions.

It is possible for some people to be infected with the bacteria and to not get sick or show any symptoms, but to still be able to spread the infection to others.

For additional information on the outbreak and recalls, please see:

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