More than 34,000 pounds of organic ground beef was recalled at the end of December because of possible E. coli contamination. The recalled products include Nature’s Harvest Organic Ground Beef Brick, Organic Harvest Organic Ground Beef Brick and Nature’s Harvest Ground Patty. The products were shipped to New York, New Jersey, North Carolina, Wisconsin, and Washington State. For more details about the specific products see the USDA’s recall.
There are aspects of organic meat production that do provide consumers with added value, like no antibiotics, synthetic steroids, or animal by products -a practice associated with cycling the protein responsible for mad cow disease. However, organic meat isn’t necessarily more immune to contamination problems. Organic meat can also be processed at plants that process conventional meat, and although there are additional standards that should be followed, this can increase the potential for cross contamination.
First Class Foods of California initiated the recall after a microbiological sample showed positive results for E. coli, but there have been no reports of illness. A potentially deadly bacterium, E. coli can cause dehydration, bloody diarrhea, and in severe cases, kidney failure.
Below are some safety tips from the USDA for preparing ground beef:
- Wash your hands with warm, soapy water for at least 20 seconds before and after handling raw meat. Wash the cutting boards, dishes and utensils you use to prepare ground beef and immediately clean up any spills while cooking.
- Keep raw meat away from other foods that will not be cooked, and use separate cutting boards for raw meat and other food items you will cook.
- Only eat ground beef that is cooked to an internal temperature of 160° F.
- Do not rely on color to tell you that ground beef is cooked to a high enough temperature to kill off harmful bacteria. Use a thermometer to measure the internal temperature.
- Within the first two hours after buying raw meet stick it in the refrigerator. If temperatures are above 90 degrees than make it one hour. And refrigerate cooked meat within two hours after cooking.
For more specifics about the recall, visit the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service webpage.