A salmonella outbreak across four states has led to six hospitalizations, according to the CDC. Symptoms of salmonella infection can lead to fever, diarrhea, and stomach cramps.
Last week, a CDC report revealed 16 individuals had become sick due to Salmonella bacteria, which type of ground beef can contain. Ground beef should be cooked to an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit to prevent salmonella infection.
State and local health officials conducted 14 interviews with those who had fallen ill, learning nine individuals had purchased ground beef in ShopRite locations throughout Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York. The CDC says seven people specifically remember purchasing 80% lean ground beef products.
Salmonella infections started on dates ranging from April 27 to June 16, the CDC says. The agency highlights the number of Salmonella infections and states with known illnesses may be higher than listed.
The CDC’s investigation says, "The true number of sick people in this outbreak is likely much higher than the number reported, and the outbreak may not be limited to the states with known illnesses. This is because many people recover without medical care and are not tested for Salmonella. In addition, recent illnesses may not yet be reported as it usually takes 3 to 4 weeks to determine if a sick person is part of an outbreak."
ShopRite, whose parent company is Wakefern Food Corp., has not issued a recall on any of its ground beef products. The CDC plans to continue its investigation to "identify the source of the ground beef sick people ate in this outbreak."
What is Salmonella infection?
Salmonella is a bacteria that lives in human and animal intestines. Individuals may acquire salmonella infections through contaminated water or food like ground beef. The CDC says 27 Salmonella outbreaks from 2012 to 2019 were caused by ground beef.
Each year, 26,500 hospitalizations and 420 deaths are caused by Salmonella infections. Most symptoms typically commence six hours to six days after infection and last four to seven days. In some cases, it can cause an infection in urine, blood, bones, joints, or nervous symptoms.
Symptoms of Salmonella infection include:
- Stomach cramps
Most individuals recover from Salmonella infections within four to seven days without antibiotics. The CDC recommends extra fluids while diarrhea symptoms persist. Antibiotic treatment for salmonella infections is recommended for adults over 65 years old, adults over 50 with pre-existing conditions like heart disease, those with weakened immune systems, or infants (younger than 12 months).
For those with diarrhea and a fever over 102 degrees, diarrhea for three days that persists, bloody diarrhea, or constant vomiting, the CDC suggests calling your health care provider.
Preventing Salmonella infection
Salmonella can be found in many different types of foods, including vegetables, eggs, chicken, pork, fruits, and some processed foods. The CDC says contaminated foods usually look and smell normal, making it important to take preventive steps when preparing meals.
CDC and FDA tips for preventing Salmonella:
- Clean: Make sure to wash any bowls, surfaces, or kitchen utensils that touch raw ground beef with soap and water before reusing. Always wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds after preparing raw ground beef to reduce contamination.
- Separate: When placing groceries in the cart or packing them in bags, try to separate ground beef products from other items. The CDC recommends raw ground beef be stored in a container or sealed, leakproof bag on the lowest shelf in the fridge or freezer.
- Cook: Always have a thermometer within reach to ensure the meat is cooked to a temperature high enough to kill germs. Ground beef must be cooked to 160 degrees, and reheated to 165 degrees. The CDC advises against raw or undercooked ground beef consumption.
- Chill: Raw ground beef that has been in the refrigerator for more than two days should be placed in the freezer within one to two days. Ground beef exposed to hot summer temperatures over 90 degrees should be refrigerated or frozen within one hour. Once cooked, ground beef should be placed in the refrigerator or freezer within two hours. The CDC says harmful germs associated with ground beef are not killed until the meat is cooked.