Packages of ground beef

Lakeside Refrigerated Services has recalled almost 43,000 pounds of mostly grass-fed ground beef because of possible contamination with E. coli O157:H7, the Department of Agriculture announced late Saturday.

The beef, sold under the Marketside Butcher and Thomas Farms brands, was shipped to at least 700 Walmart and other retailers nationwide.

Recalled lots of Marketside Butcher Organic Grass-Fed Ground Beef products were shipped predominately to Walmart stores in Alabama, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Maine, Massachusetts, North Carolina, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Vermont, and Puerto Rico. (You can find a full list of the Walmart stores where the meat was sold on the recall page of the company’s website.)

No illnesses have been reported.  

All the meat that has been recalled was produced June 1 and has the establishment number EST. 46841 in the USDA mark of inspection. The bacteria was detected during a routine USDA inspection.

“As soon as we were notified by Thomas Foods of the recall, we immediately began the process of alerting our stores and distribution centers to remove the affected product from our store shelves and inventory, including a sales restriction,” says Walmart spokesperson Allison Van Matre

Neither Lakeside Refrigerated Services or Thomas Foods has responded to CR’s repeated attempts to reach them with questions.

The meat has a “use or freeze by” date of 6/25/20, 6/27/20, or 7/01/20, depending on the brand and package size. (See “The Details,” below.) If you have any of this meat in your refrigerator or freezer, do not eat it. Throw it away.

If you bought any of the meat involved in this recall at Walmart, Van Matre says you can get a refund at your nearest Walmart.

The Risks of E. Coli

E. coli O157:H7 bacteria produces a toxin, making infections potentially dangerous. In addition to the typical vomiting and diarrhea associated with food poisoning, this type of bacteria has the potential to cause hemolytic uremic syndrome, a serious condition affecting the blood vessels that can lead to kidney failure and death.

And because E. coli can survive on the meat even when it’s in the freezer—the cold temperatures might not actually kill it—it’s essential that consumers dispose of the recalled product, says James E. Rogers, Ph.D., director of food safety research and testing at Consumer Reports. “These toxin-producing strains of E. coli have very serious consequences to consumers if they get sick with the bacteria.”

Although many consider organic and grass-fed beef to be a “healthier” option than standard ground beef, “organic and grass fed refers to how the cow is raised, how it’s fed, and the lack of pesticides and antibiotics used,” Rogers says. “But organic and grass-fed beef can still carry harmful bacteria.”

More on Food Safety

Ground beef is, in general, more susceptible to bacterial contamination because of the way it is produced. A package of ground beef often contains meat from many cows. That means if the meat from one cow is contaminated, the bacteria can get mixed into a lot of batches of ground beef. And compared with steaks, where any bacteria present is only on the surface of the meat, any bacteria in ground beef is distributed throughout.

That’s why it’s important to handle all ground beef you buy with care: Always cook it to a safe internal temperature of 160° F—which is well-done—and be sure not to let cooked ground beef touch any utensils that were used to handle it when it was raw. 

The Details

Products recalled: Grass-fed ground beef, organic and conventional, sold under the Marketside Butcher and Thomas Farms brands, and one lot of Value Pack Fresh Ground Beef, as follows:

• 1-pound vacuum packages containing Marketside Butcher Organic Grass-Fed Ground Beef, with a “use or freeze by” date of 07/01/20 and lot code P-53298-82

• 1-pound vacuum packages containing four ¼-pound pieces of Marketside Butcher Organic Grass-Fed Ground Beef Patties, with a “use or freeze by” date of 06/27/20 and lot code P-53934-28

• 3-pound vacuum packages containing three 1-pound pieces of Marketside Butcher Organic Grass-Fed Ground Beef 93% Lean/7% fat, with a “use or freeze by” date of 07/01/20 and lot code P53929-70

• 1-pound tray packages containing four ¼-pound pieces of Thomas Farms Grass-Fed Ground Beef Patties 85% lean/15% fat, with a “use or freeze by” date of 06/25/20 and lot code P53944-10

• 4-pound tray packages containing 10 ¼-pound pieces of Thomas Farms Grass-Fed Ground Beef Patties 80% lean/20% fat, with a “use or freeze by” date of 06/25/20 and lot code P53937-45

• 1-pound vacuum packages containing four ¼-pound pieces of Thomas Farms Grass-Fed Ground Beef Patties 85% lean/15% fat, with a “use or freeze by” date of 06/27/20 and lot code P53935-25

• 1-pound vacuum packages containing Value Pack Fresh Ground Beef 76% lean/24% fat, with a “use or freeze by” date of 07/01/20 and lot code P53930-18

The problem: The meat may be contaminated with E. coli O157:H7.

The fix: Check packages for the information above before purchasing meat from these brands, and do not buy it. If you have any of this meat in your refrigerator or freezer, do not eat it. Throw it away. If you purchased the meat at Walmart, you can get a refund at your nearest store.

How to contact the manufacturer: Call the Lakeside Processing Center Call Center at 856-832-3881.

Editor’s Note: This article has been updated to include new information, including comments from Walmart. It was originally published June 14.

Label from recalled ground beef, Marketside Butcher
Label from recalled ground beef, Marketside Butcher
Label from recalled ground beef, Marketside Butcher
Label from recalled ground beef, Thomas Farms