The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates as much as 1.8 million pounds of tainted ground beef made its way through the national food supply chain earlier this month. Health officials warn consumers in at least 10 states, including Florida, could be at risk of e coli infection.
The first case of illness was reported back on May 8th, but the complaint didn’t make its way to the Centers for Disease Control until earlier this week. Officials now believe the outbreak originated from Wolverine Packing – a Michigan-based meat packing plant.
Bill Marler is a Seattle foodborne illness attorney who’s worked outbreak cases like the 1994 Jack in the Box contamination. He explained that although there haven’t been any reported illnesses in Florida yet, because of the infection’s 1 to 10-day incubation period, it may take some more time before a case pops up in the Sunshine State.
“It could be that there are people who are sick who have not yet been officially counted. Like I said, it takes time for that to happen,” Marler said in a phone interview Friday. “Sometimes it takes two to three weeks for it to sort of go through the entire system. As you know, the first onset of illness in this outbreak was May 8th. So, you can tell it’s taken a while for these cases to be counted.”
Marler theorized that the outbreak most likely began during Wolverine Packing’s slaughtering process, but commended most of the meat packing industry overall for putting safety first.
This is the largest ground beef recall in six years.