USDA has issued a warning that ground beef in certain HelloFresh meal kits that were shipped to customers this past summer may have been contaminated with E. coli O157:H7.
At least seven people across six states have become ill, and six people have been hospitalized, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. A public health alert was issued on September 10 by USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), and the possible outbreak allegedly impacts a small portion of HelloFresh customers in the U.S. who received beef from one specific supplier.
Traceback information identified that multiple people received ground beef produced by this single supplier and distributed by HelloFresh in meal kits shipped from July 2 through July 21, 2022. “Traceback of materials used to produce the ground beef is ongoing and FSIS continues to work with suppliers and public health partners on the investigation,” USDA said in a statement.
The product in question is contained in 10-oz. plastic vacuum-packed packages displaying “EST.46841” inside the USDA mark of inspection and on the plastic ground beef package itself.
“The USDA issued a public health alert out of an abundance of caution and we are closely partnering with them and the supplier in question,” a HelloFresh spokesperson told Food Quality & Safety. “We have industry-leading programs in place to ensure the safety of our meals and our recipe card instructions guide consumers to thoroughly prepare ground beef to 160o F. All of our facilities in the U.S. are SQF certified, which is the highest level of food safety certification.”
At this time, no recall has been issued, since the implicated ground beef is believed not to be available for sale any longer, according to USDA. Still, the agency is concerned that some of the contaminated product could be in consumers’ freezers. Anyone who has purchased these products and still have them are urged not to consume them and throw them away.
“FSIS advises all consumers to safely prepare their raw meat products, including fresh and frozen, and only consume ground beef that has been cooked to a temperature of 160 F,” the notification said. “The only way to confirm that ground beef is cooked to a temperature high enough to kill harmful bacteria is to use a food thermometer that measures internal temperature.”