Ground Beef Health Alert: FSIS Warns of Potential E. coli Contamination in Greater Omaha Packing Co. Products

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has issued a public health alert for ground beef products from Greater Omaha Packing Co. Inc. that may be contaminated with E. coli O157:H7. The alert comes after the company discovered the issue while conducting an inventory of a product that tested positive for the dangerous bacteria.

The FSIS is urging consumers and food service institutions to check their freezers for the affected products and to dispose of them properly or return them to the place of purchase. This public health alert serves as a reminder of the importance of proper food safety practices when handling and preparing ground beef products.

Affected Products and Distribution

The affected raw ground beef items were produced on March 28, 2024, and have a “Use/Freeze by” date of April 22, 2024, and a packaging date of “032824.” The products bear the establishment number “EST. 960A” inside the USDA mark of inspection and were shipped to food service institutions and retail locations nationwide.

Although a recall was not requested since the products are no longer available for purchase, the FSIS is taking this precautionary measure to ensure that consumers are aware of the potential risk associated with these products. Consumers who have purchased these items are advised not to consume them.

The company, Greater Omaha Packing Co. Inc., notified the FSIS that they had inadvertently used a portion of the contaminated beef to produce ground beef products that were subsequently shipped into commerce. The problem was discovered while conducting an inventory of a product that was on hold due to a positive E. coli O157:H7 test result.

Risks Associated with E. coli O157:H7

E. coli O157:H7 is a potentially deadly bacterium that can cause severe symptoms such as dehydration, bloody diarrhea, and abdominal cramps. The onset of symptoms typically occurs 2-8 days after exposure to the organism, with an average incubation period of 3-4 days.

In some cases, E. coli O157:H7 infection can lead to a life-threatening condition called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), which is most common in children under 5 years old and older adults. Symptoms of HUS include easy bruising, pallor, and decreased urine output, and those experiencing these symptoms should seek emergency medical care immediately.

To date, there have been no confirmed reports of illness due to the consumption of these products. However, the FSIS is concerned that some of the affected products may still be in consumers’ or food service institutions’ freezers, posing a potential health risk if consumed.

Safe Preparation and Handling of Ground Beef

To minimize the risk of foodborne illness, the FSIS advises all consumers to safely prepare their raw meat products and only consume ground beef that has been cooked to an internal temperature of 160°F, as measured by a food thermometer. This is the only way to ensure that harmful bacteria, such as E. coli O157:H7, are destroyed.

Consumers should also practice proper food safety techniques, such as washing hands thoroughly before and after handling raw meat, keeping raw meat separate from other foods, and cleaning and sanitizing surfaces and utensils that come into contact with raw meat. These precautions can help prevent cross-contamination and reduce the risk of foodborne illness.

The FSIS also recommends that consumers and food service institutions promptly dispose of any affected ground beef products or return them to the place of purchase. By taking these steps, individuals can help protect themselves and others from the potential health risks associated with consuming contaminated ground beef.

Recommendations and Contact Information

The public health alert issued by the FSIS highlights the importance of staying informed about potential food safety risks and taking appropriate precautions when handling and preparing ground beef products. By following the recommended guidelines and practicing proper food safety techniques, consumers can help minimize their risk of foodborne illness.

Consumers who have questions or concerns about the public health alert or the affected ground beef products can contact Gina Adami, Greater Omaha Packing Co. Inc. Representative, at 402-575-4702 or The FSIS encourages individuals to report any suspected cases of foodborne illness to their local health department or the USDA’s Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854).

By working together and maintaining open lines of communication, consumers, food service institutions, and regulatory agencies can help ensure the safety and quality of the food supply and protect public health.