Uh Oh, 1 Million Pounds Of Beef Is Contaminated With E. coli

Alright, you know the drill: go to your freezer and look for meat products labeled “EST. 8268,” which is now code for everybody’s favorite stomach bug: E. coli. The Valley Meat Company of California announced this week that they plan to recall nearly one million pounds of ground beef contaminated with the icky stomach bug.

The affected products were made between October 2, 2009 and January 12 and sold in California, Texas, Oregon, and Arizona. Beyond the establishment number EST. 8268, which you can find inside the USDA mark of inspection, you can also look for productions codes 25709 through 01210. The Food Safety and Inspection Service says the following products are affected:

  • (#2155) *IQF* 80/20% BEEF PATTIES 8/1R
  • (#2503) SMASHBURGER 40/7 OZ. – VAC PACK
  • (#2510) IQF 80/20% BEEF PATTIES 2/1 OVAL
  • (#2515) *IQF* 80/20% BEEF PATTIES 2/1 R
  • (#2535) IQF 80/20% BEEF PATTIES 3/1 OVAL
  • (#2545) IQF 80/20% BEEF PATTIES 3/1R
  • (#2575) *IQF* 80/20% BEEF PATTIES 4/1R
  • (#2595) IQF – 80/20% PATTIES 4/1R THIN
  • (#2605) *IQF* 80/20% BEEF PATTIES 5/1R
  • (#2635) *IQF* 80/20% BEEF PATTIES 6/1R
  • (#2668) BEEF CHUCK PATTIES 7 OZ- 21#
  • (#3075) *IQF* 85/15% PATTIES 4/1R USFI
  • (#3090) ‘RPQ’ 85/15 PATTIES 160/4 OZ.
  • (#3325) “RPQ” 90/10 BEEF PATTIES 40/4 OZ
  • (#3350) 90/10% BEEF PATTIES 160/4 OZ.
  • (#3450)SUPREMAS BEEF PATTIES 12/3#
  • (#3519) *IQF* 4/1 SOY PATTIES 80/20%
  • (#3520) *IQF* 5/1 SOY PATTIES 80/20%
  • (#3522) *IQF* 6/1 SOY PATTIES 80/20%
  • (#3675) BEEF SOY PATTIES RETAIL 6/5#
  • (#3700) 73/27% RETAIL PATTIES – 12/3#
  • (#3705) 73/27% RETAIL PATTIES – 6/5#
  • (#3710) 73/27% RETAIL PATTIES – 8/3#
  • (#3715) BIGGER VALLEY BURGER – 6/5#
  • (#3725) 80/20 BIGGER BURGER 12/3#
  • (#3751) 80/20% RETAIL PATTIES 12/3#
  • (#3800) 85/15% RETAIL PATTIES – 12/3#
  • (#3850) BLACK ANGUS BURGER 12/2# BOX
  • (#3875) 93/7% BEEF PATTIES 12/3# RETAIL
  • (#3880) BUTCHER’S CUT 73/27 RETAIL BOXES 8#
  • (#3882) BUTCHER’S CUT 73/27 PATTIES 12/2.5#
  • (#3883) BUTCHER’S CUT 80/20 PATTIES 12/2.5#
  • (#4000) 73/27% GROUND BEEF 10/1#
  • (#4001) 73/27% GROUND BEEF 20/2#
  • (#4005) 73/27% GROUND BEEF – 40/1#
  • (#4015) 73/27% GROUND BEEF 4/5#
  • (#4020) 73/27% GROUND BEEF – 8/5#
  • (#4030) 73/27% GROUND BEEF 4/10#
  • (#4035) 73/27% GROUND BEEF 15/3#
  • (#4300) 80/20% GROUND BEEF 10/1#
  • (#4305) 80/20% GROUND BEEF – 40/1#
  • (#4310) 80/20% GROUND BEEF 4/5#
  • (#4315) 80/20% GROUND BEEF 8/5#
  • (#4325) 80/20% GROUND BEEF – 4/10#
  • (#4326)*FRESH** 80/20% GROUND BEEF 4/10#
  • (#4328)80/20 GROUND BEEF 4/10# WHITE BOX
  • (#4329) ‘RPQ’ 80/20% GROUND BEEF 4/10#
  • (#4335)80/20% GROUND BEEF 2/5# – PRINTED
  • (#4610) 85/15% GROUND BEEF 4/5#
  • (#4615) 85/15% GROUND BEEF 8/5#
  • (#4625) “RPQ” 85/15% GROUND BEEF 4/10#
  • (#4630) 85/15% G B 4/10# CLEAR-generic
  • (#4915) 90/10% GROUND BEEF – 8/5#
  • (#4925) 90/10% GROUND BEEF 4/10# / WHITE
  • (#4930) 90/10% G B 4/10# / CLEAR-generic
  • (#4980) 93/7% GROUND BEEF 4/10#
  • (2714) HEARST 80/20 PATTIES 5/1R -10#

FSIS will release a list sometime this week of the retailers who sold the contaminated meat. If you find any in your freezer (really, go look), either throw it out or bring it back to wherever you bought it for a refund.

California Firm Recalls Frozen Ground Beef Products Due To Possible E. Coli O157: H7 Contamination [USDA]
E. coli Recall of 1,000,000 pounds of meat from Valley Meat Company [Marler Blog]


Edit Your Comment

  1. menty666 says:

    I particularly hate this because my local BJs club has a 13 pound ‘meat chub’ that we’ll sometimes buy then bring home and break into smaller vacuum sealed packages to freeze. It’s gross up front, but economical for the family.

    But do you think we write the lot code from the store package on our break up packaging? Noooo.

    • roguemarvel says:

      same in my house, this will be a big pain in the ass

    • twonewfs says:

      My infectious disease professor once pointed out that he would feel safer licking an interstate restroom floor than buying chubs of ground meat….
      That about sums it up, and memorably!
      Unless you grind chuck yourself, in your food processor (which in my area is a cheaper altermative), or buy from a small local producer who doesn’t package in enormous quantities, you’re just asking for flora and fauna in your meat.

      • ghostfire says:

        Mmm, I’ll second the local shop thing. There’s a German deli near where I live that grinds big chunks of round right in front of me. The price per pound is usually a little less than the supermarket, and I know I’m getting leaner, higher quality cuts of meat that are incredibly fresh and not from dozens of cows. BJs is great for things like whole hams or big cuts of corned beef – things that are much less likely to be contaminated.

        • kutsuwamushi says:

          And for people who have a mixer, which many do (and never use), you can often buy an attachment that you can grind your own meat with. Which is good for us folks that don’t have a good or affordable butcher available.

      • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

        If he felt that unsafe just buying it, what would he rather do than eating a properly cooked hamburger?

      • Awesome McAwesomeness says:

        We have a meat market at a local store who grinds it fresh from chuck and sirloin. I feel much better about eating it.

    • eekfuh says:

      same thing with me too…. jeeesh.

    • Verucalise (Est.February2008) says:

      Wow! 13 pds?!?! I mean, I buy 3-4 pds at the most and divide it up the same as you… I can’t imagine what I would do with 13 pds of ground beef considering we only go thru that 3-4 pds a month. That would last us probably 3+ months in my house!

    • Awesome McAwesomeness says:

      I often buy a few pounds and break it up as well. I don’t keep the package it came in either. I guess people like us are screwed if we have it.

    • Big Mama Pain says:

      I wouldn’t worry too much about it; Ecoli is mainly from poor food handling, and those chubs have the most minimal (if any?) handling by people. Notice the recall is burger patties and smaller quantities. If you’re really worried, just make sure you cook those burgers well done, and your family will be safe AND economical. When I “make it myself at home”, I freeze the chub just enough for it to be a little firm, and use a sharp knife to cut the patties with the wrapper still on so they keep good shape without having to mess with them too much, and that would probably keep the lot number kicking around on at least one or two of them. Also keeps the handling down (because you could always make yourself sick by forming all those patties with contaminated hands/surface)

    • chiieddy says:

      Our BJs doesn’t include ground beef in their packaging and that’s what you have to worry about. Actually, ours includes a 6 lb roast which I cut in half and use the other half to break into ground meat, processing it through my Kitchenaid mixer attachment.

      If you don’t have the mixer and attachment, you can get a hand grinder for about $30 on Amazon.com

  2. Fantoche_de_Chaussette says:

    Of course, you should always treat ground beef as if it is contaminated with bacteria, because it is.

    Handled ground beef as a biohazard until it is thoroughly cooked. Unless you like sharing fecal bacteria with cows.

    • rpm773 says:

      When you grow up with a mother who is a paranoid nurse, you learn to have a healthy respect for the potential of ground beef (and any other meat, for that matter) to make you sick.

      Prepare it in a confined area of the kitchen, sanitize that area immediately after prep, and cook to 160F.

    • kabamm says:

      Not a part of my diet for a few years now. Ewww.

    • marsneedsrabbits says:

      I’ve always known this… and I’m super-careful with meat in general, and we don’t eat much ground, but I have to say that the potential danger of mass-produced meat didn’t really sink in deep until I watched the documentary Food, Inc.

      Watching all the PETA ads in the world couldn’t do what that 90 film does.

      I grew up helping my dad slaughter pigs and cows, and I hunt, so I know what a messy job slaughtering an animal is.

      Nothing compares to what is done commercially, though. Nothing. After watching that film, I walked away surprised that there aren’t many more cases of E coli and who-knows-what-else. At this point, if it doesn’t spend its life eating grass in an open field somewhere, I don’t want to eat it and I don’t want my family to eat it.

  3. aja175 says:

    I think I’d be more worried about still having ground beef from 2009 in my freezer. Does it actually freeze that long and come out as a recognizable meat product?

    • Fujikopez says:

      Yes, as long as it’s frozen properly.

      • aja175 says:

        I guess I can safely say my mother never quite got the freezing process down then. 2 months at most then it got all freezer burned and awful.

        • s0s has a chewy nougat center says:

          It’s really important that you get all of the air out, and seal it up tight. I vacuum-seal my meat before I freeze it and have never really had a problem, even a year later.

          If the meat IS freezer-burned, for some reason, then I just use it in recipes where it won’t matter all that much. Stews, pulled chicken chili, tacos… Anything where you’ve got a lot of other stuff to help mask any change in flavor.

    • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

      As someone who just ate chopped meat from ~2006 in chili, it was excellent!

  4. Straspey says:

    You want fries with that ?

  5. MustWarnOthers says:

    It should be standard procedure that each time their is a significant outbreak of a potentially life threatening disease in our food, they should consolidate the Agri-Business companies even further.

  6. Nick says:

    Damn. Must have run out of ammonia.

    • twonewfs says:

      Snork! Great comment!

      Who can forget the NYT ‘pink slime’ article – even if we so desperately want to!

  7. Erika says:

    I’m just flabbergasted that so many beef products can go out to the market with a USDA mark of inspection and still be contaminated with e.coli.

    • hansolo247 says:

      newsflash, it all has something in it.

      This meat, if properly cooked, would be fine.

      • gorby says:

        Not necessarily so. It’s pretty easy to determine the internal temp of a straight cut of meat, like a steak, so “thoroughly cooking” (for beef, 160 degrees F) isn’t that much of a problem. For ground beef, though, where much of the meat is not in direct contact with the heated surface, this can be a little dicey. Beef browns before 160 degrees, so going by color alone won’t work. And you can’t really stick a thermometer into a pile of ground beef and get an accurate reading. If the choice comes down to seriously overcooking ground beef or running a risk, regrettably, many processing facilities and restaurants will run the risk.

    • ARP says:

      Because the agency was starved to almost nothing under the guise of “letting the industry regulate themselves.”

    • ludwigk says:

      You DO know that USDA inspections involve no microbial testing, right? The beef lobbies have successfully killed every attempt at updating USDA processes with even LAST century’s safety standards.

  8. dreamfish says:

    At least it’s traceable. Nothing worse than saying there is a significant amount of contaminated beef but you don’t know where it is – so the solution would be to either tell people to take the risk or engage in the ruinously expensive exercise of recalling *everything*.

  9. Happy Tinfoil Cat says:

    They should probably just list the lot codes for beef that is _not_ contaminated, but they can’t because all ground beef has e. coli, just not this particular strain.

    – Produced “Oct. 2, 2009 through Jan. 12, 2010”
    – “FSIS became aware of the problem on July 15”
    – Public notified August 6th.

    10 months! Someone could have got pregnant and had the baby before being notified. We eat our beef within a day or so of buying it (we don’t even buy frozen). The good thing is, we cook it first.

  10. rpm773 says:

    (#2503) SMASHBURGER 40/7 OZ. – VAC PACK

    Who wants Smashburgers?!

  11. Villnius says:

    This wouldn’t even be an issue if people cook their meats properly.

    If you like your burgers medium rare, your safest bet would be to buy a roast and grind it up yourself right before you grill the burgers. The bacteria on beef is on the surface of the meat. If you grind it up, you increase the surface area considerably. However, if you kept it refrigerated and grind up the roast or steak right before serving, there wouldn’t be much bacterial growth, and it’d be ok to eat even if it was raw. Steak tar tar (raw ground beef) is ground up just before serving, and few people get sick from steak tar tar but you hear about E-coli outbreaks from medium burgers all the time.

    Another option would be irradiation. If you expose the packaged meats to gamma rays, it’d kill the bacteria without altering the meat to any great degree. It’d also have a longer shelf life, because the stuff in the package is essentially sterile so long as the package is air tight. Of course, that’s probably not going to happen, because there’s so much BS going around that most people have a long stick up their butts about anything that even uses words like nuclear or radiation. The meat doesn’t remain radioactive, and the effects on the meat are about the same as from microwaving on low for a few seconds — and except for a few people who wear foil underwear, we’ve mostly accepted microwaved food.

  12. Beeker26 says:

    Maybe someone can explain this to me: doesn’t proper cooking kill off pretty much anything that could be lurking around in there? Isn’t raw or undercooked meat *always* a possible illness waiting to happen?

    • Awesome McAwesomeness says:

      I would cook pre ground meat for chili and what not really well and it would most likely be safe. If I wanted to cook a medium burger, I would probably go down the street to the butcher shop, ask him to grind it fresh and take it home and cook it right then.

    • ChuckECheese says:

      The concern here is that this is E coli O157:H7, which is nastier than your average e coli. It can cause internal bleeding and kidney failure, and is particularly hard on children and the elderly. Less virulent strains of e coli might make you sick, but aren’t considered as dangerous as O157:H7.

    • Back to waiting, but I did get a cute dragon ear cuff says:

      The contamination is on the outside layer (just guessing here, 1/16″-1/8″) of the cut of meat. So when you cook a steak to rare, the outside layer still gets over 160 degrees so it kills off all the bacteria.

      Once you grind the meat, the part that was outside and possibly contaminated is now evenly distributed through the ground meat. So the contamination is now throughout. That is why anything with ground meat needs to be cooked thoroughly.

  13. MustardTiger says:

    Ugh meat is so gross anyway. Vegetarians ftw.

    • mikeluisortega says:

      Did you see the soy patties on the list? weird

      (#3519) *IQF* 4/1 SOY PATTIES 80/20%
      What is that? 80% soy 20% beef?

      • SunnyLea says:

        Yeah, thought that was a bit… off myself.

      • Mr.Grieves says:

        I lol’d at that part too. The thought that many “vegetarians” buy their soy burgers from a meat company is funny. As if it never comes into contact with meat directly or indirectly, and apparently it’s 20% beef straight up lol!

      • MustardTiger says:

        Most cases I’ve come across with veggies is usually due to contamination from manure. Keeping animals out of the equation, IMHO, is just a healthier way to go.

      • baquwards says:

        I think that these are beef patties mixed with soy protein. These are often institutional products for schools, prisons, etc..

    • kethryvis says:

      Also, considering that several e. coli breakouts have been on veggies lately (tomatoes, lettuce, spinach, etc.), i’d say being veggie isn’t as safe as it sounds.

    • Happy Tinfoil Cat says:

      At least we cook meat. Fresh tomatoes and lettuce are much less appealing if cooked to 160F

    • catnapped says:

      Yeah nobody EVER took a dump on the vegetables!

      Oh wait….

    • runswithscissors says:

      Meat is delicious.

      And veggies are just as often E. Coli outbreak causes as meats, so… yeah. Preaching fail.

      Personal choice FTW!

      • MustardTiger says:

        Preachy, really?

        and uh, yeah, personal choice ftw… it is my personal choice to not consume meat, and yours to do so. I’m not asking you to stop.

  14. kethryvis says:

    Yowza. i have some of this in my freezer now, but the production code is outside the recall range. i’m still wary of it now, even though a) i’ve eaten some of it and been fine, and b) i know to cook it within an inch of yummyness before nomming. Still kinda scary.

  15. EarthAngel says:

    The contamination occurred October – January and they are just now notifying us? “Oh, hey. Do you remember those patties you bought almost a year ago? They might have been infected with a dangerous bacteria.”

    I find it hard to believe that there is nothing better in place that could alert the public to dangerous contaminants in our food. It’s a good thing the food industry has lobbyists working for them to keep the American people safe from little children and their lemonade stands.

  16. BustedFlush says:

    Completely unacceptable and all too familiar.

    E. Coli O157:H7 doesn’t just cause another case of the squirts either. It kills children and old people, and makes healthy folks wish they were dead. If it isn’t treated right away it can lead to liver failure and a syndrome called HUS.

    It’s a terribly slow and agonizing way for a child to die.

    It’s not just cooking the burgers past 165; just as common is infection from cross contamination.

    It doesn’t have to be this way. Make quality food a priority. Some things are OK to cheap out on – food isn’t one of them. You want good safe meat? Buy it from a farmer you know by name.

  17. iParadox{InLove} says:

    and people look at me funny when I order my burger well-done.

  18. chiieddy says:

    It’s all ground beef. How… unsurprising. When will the FDA start properly regulating ground beef products. Every since the Pulitzer Prize winning NY Times expose on ground beef and e. coli last year, I grind my own. This is why.

  19. inniskillin says:

    What are the “Soy Patties” that are being recalled? That’s a bit unsettling.

  20. Lisa34 says:

    I wish I could find some vegan foods that were inexpensive and filling as meat. I’ve tried to go raw but I always feel hungry or the expense gets too high.