Lab results confirm source of contaminated beef |

Lab results confirm source of contaminated beef


DENVER – Testing at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention laboratory in Atlanta has confirmed that the E. coli DNA fingerprint in a hamburger sample obtained by the U.S. Department of Agriculture from ConAgra Beef Co.’s Plant in Greeley matches the DNA fingerprint in specimens taken from 17 patients. Those patients became ill during the current E. coli outbreak in Colorado.

Of the eight additional cases that have been awaiting final confirmation at the state laboratory in connection with the outbreak, two have tested negative for E. coli; patient specimens have not yet been submitted in three others; two were positive for E. coli , but the DNA fingerprinting has not been completed; and the testing is pending in one case.

Of the 17 Colorado confirmed cases, one is from Arapahoe County; four, Boulder County; one, City and County of Broomfield; five, Douglas County; two, El Paso County; two, Jefferson County; one, Park County; and one, Teller County.

Four of 17 Colorado residents, who range in age from one to 72 years of age, required hospitalization. All have been released from the hospital.

A specimen taken from a seven-year-old South Dakota boy, who became ill at his home after consuming hamburger purchased at a supermarket there, “Consumers should check their freezers to see if they have ground beef purchased at Safeway Stores with a “sell by’ date of 6/7/02 through 6/28/02,” said Barbara Hruska, director of the Department of Public Health and Environment’s Consumer Protection Division. If so, they should not use the beef and can return it to the store of purchase for a refund.”

ConAgra Beef Co. of Greeley issued a recall of the ground beef, which in Colorado had been sold primarily to Safeway Stores for retail sales, on June 30. Safeway issued a recall of the involved hamburger the next day.

E. coli can cause bloody diarrhea and intense abdominal cramps. Some individuals may develop Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome, which usually requires hospitalization. Children and the elderly are especially vulnerable.

Hruska reiterated the importance of cooking ground beef to 155 degrees Fahrenheit to kill the harmful bacteria.

“Cooking your hamburgers until they’re well done will kill E. coli … The safest cooking method is to use a food thermometer to properly cook hamburgers by inserting the tip of the probe into the thickest part of the hamburger,” she said.

For more information, call (303) 692-2700.

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