Beef, Cantaloupe Recalls: Tips for Preventing E. Coli, Listeriosis

Tyson Fresh Meats Inc. is recalling 131,000 pounds of ground beef that may have been contaminated with E. coli, U.S. Dept. of Agriculture officials said today.

This comes on the heels of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s assessment Wednesday that the outbreak of listeria among cantaloupe from Colorado’s Jensen Farms has been the deadliest in a decade.

The CDC put the death toll from listeria at 13, while 72 people have been infected.

To date, there have been no reported illnesses connected to the beef recall, which Tysons told Reuters was voluntary.

Symptoms of listeriosis begin with muscle aches and high fever.

E.coli is often associated with severe diarrhea and vomiting.

You should consult a physician if you suspect you have been infected with either of the bacteria.

High-risk groups for both bacteria include the elderly, pregnant women, infants and others with compromised immune systems.

If you are concerned that you have bought contaminated products, there are steps you can take to help prevent E. coli and listeriosis in your household:

  • The CDC and the Food and Drug Administration recommend that you immediately throw away any food that was recalled and you think could be contaminated. For ground beef, all the products recalled have a “Best Before” or “Freeze Before” date of Sept. 12, 2011.  Click here for more information from the USDA on specific brands that were affected. For cantaloupe, Jensen’s Amy Philpott told ABC News the farm shipped more than 300,000 cases across the U.S. between July 29 and Sept. 10. The farm voluntarily recalled its cantaloupes on Sept. 14 in response to the multi-state outbreak of listeria.
  • Do not try to wash the harmful bacteria from the cantaloupe. It can seep inside the fruit.
  • It’s recommended that you use bleach to wipe down the inside of and door handle on your refrigerator, as well as your kitchen surfaces and cutting boards, if you believe you bought contaminated products.

Here are additional everyday tips you can follow to prevent a listeriosis or E. coli contamination, recommended by the CDC:

  • Thoroughly cook raw food from animal sources such as beef, pork or poultry to a safe internal temperature.
  • Rinse raw vegetables thoroughly under running water before eating.
  • Keep uncooked meats and poultry separate from vegetables and from cooked foods and ready-to-eat foods.
  • Do not drink raw and unpasteurized milk and do not eat foods that have unpasteurized milk in them.
  • Eat perishable and ready-to-eat foods as soon as possible.
  • Clean up spills in your refrigerator right away.