6 people hospitalized with E. coli linked to HelloFresh meal kits
- Seven people have gotten sick with E. coli linked to HelloFresh meal kits.
- Six of them reported eating ground beef from their meal kits before they were ill.
Six people have been hospitalized with E. coli after eating ground beef from the meal delivery company HelloFresh.
State and local health officials interviewed the patients, who fell ill between June 8 and August 17. All of the people interviewed reported eating ground beef from HelloFresh before they fell ill.
The patients, and one other person who fell ill but did not require hospital care, were located across the country: in Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Washington, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Customers who froze meat from HelloFresh boxes shipped between July 2 and 21 should throw any ground beef away, the US Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) said in a statement Saturday. The product is no longer being distributed, so the company was not required to issue a recall.
Genetic analysis revealed that the people who got sick were infected with the E. coli strain O157:H7 — a common culprit in outbreaks of intestinal illness. Symptoms of E. coli infection include stomach cramps, vomiting, and bloody diarrhea, according to the CDC.
This is not the first time HelloFresh has been linked to a foodborne illness outbreak; in 2019, the company recalled onions tainted with Salmonella, which were part of a nationwide outbreak at the time, food safety attorney Bill Marler told Insider.
"My hope is that with these outbreaks and the ongoing investigation of Daily Harvest, that the FDA and FSIS are paying attention to the growing home food delivery market," Marler said.
Customers should check for HelloFresh beef in their freezers
Ground beef has been implicated in many past E. coli scares, including a public health alert regarding Hawaii's Big Island Beef in August and a recall of about 120,000 pounds of ground beef produced in New Jersey this spring.
Investigators with FSIS were able to trace the source of the recent outbreak back to a specific manufacturing location in the US. In a statement to the Washington Post, HelloFresh said the warning likely "affects a very small portion of HelloFresh customers in the US."
Still, FSIS is concerned that some customers may have leftover product in their freezers. In a public health alert, the agency said consumers who have purchased HelloFresh should check for 10-ounce vacuum-sealed packages of 85-percent-lean ground beef, which may bear the label "EST.46841."
In general, food safety experts recommend that people only consume ground beef that's been cooked to an internal temperature of at least 160 Fahrenheit — high enough to kill most harmful bacteria.
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