No illnesses reported in RI days after beef recall

(WPRI) – Two days after the Rhode Island Department of Health confirmed that ground beef that may be contaminated with E. coli was sold to dozens of establishments in the state, no illnesses have been reported.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service announced Monday that some products, distributed to four states by the Wolverine Packing Co., could be contaminated with E. coli. Eyewitness News learned that the affected products were also shipped to 128 facilities in Rhode Island, including restaurants and nursing homes.

The Department of Health has not released a list of the establishments that have received the ground beef. Chief of Food Protection Dr. Ernest Julian says part of the reason for that is the health department believes the health risk is low at this time.

Health officials believe that all of the affected products were distributed fresh, and therefore have most likely already been consumed.

Residents who have frozen beef in the freezer should check the date and codes. The recalled products were:

  • Produced between March 31 and April 18.
  • Bear the establishment number “EST. 2574B”
  • Have a production date code in the format “Packing Nos: MM DD 14″ between “03 31 14″ and “04 18 14.”

The Department of Health is cautioning residents, even those who don’t have the recalled product, to only eat ground beef that has been cooked to the internal temperature of 160 degrees.

According to Julian, this particular strain of E. coli can be deadly to small children.

“This is a particularly nasty organism,” said Julian, “It causes internal bleeding, shuts down the kidneys, and can shut down the other organs.”

Symptoms of E. coli bacteria can include severe stomach cramps, nausea, and bloody diarrhea.

Eleven illnesses have been reported in other states, though none have been reported in Rhode Island.

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