A recall of meat products as part of an E. coli outbreak in Norway has been expanded.

Nordfjord Kjøtt issued the extended recall this past week. It now covers certain shelf life dates of nine products, including Hamburger Classic, Prima Hamburger, Bacon Burger, ground (or minced) meat, and Big Beef burger.

The move was prompted because products are made with the same raw material. Items were sold at Rema 1000 stores. They have been removed from sale, but consumers may still have them at home in the freezers.

Norwegian officials said it was one of the country’s most significant E. coli outbreaks since 2006.

The Norwegian Institute of Public Health (FHI) reported E. coli O26:H11 had been detected in 17 people.

FHI said people fell ill in July and August. Patients range in age from under 5 to 55 years old. 

Five people have developed the serious condition hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). HUS is a severe complication associated with E. coli infections that causes kidney failure and can lead to brain damage and other lifelong complications.

Ongoing investigations
Suspicion of the products being the source of infection has been boosted after more patient interviews and traceback work in the food supply chain.

The Norwegian Food Safety Authority (Mattilsynet) received what was left in two packs of hamburgers from patients. Preliminary analysis from the Veterinary Institute helped strengthen the suspicion against hamburgers.

Health officials emphasized that freezing does not kill E. coli, and ground beef products must be thoroughly cooked. This means a core temperature of 70 degrees C. The USDA says raw ground beef needs to be cooked to an internal temperature of 160 degrees F, as measured with a food thermometer.

People were also advised to wash their hands and utensils after touching frozen or fresh hamburgers.

Vulnerable groups such as young children, pregnant women, and others with weakened immune systems should not eat lightly or medium-cooked burgers.

When grinding meat, bacteria on the surface can be distributed throughout the product. If ground or minced meat is not cooked sufficiently, the bacteria in the middle can survive.

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