ILLINOIS — An ongoing outbreak of E. coli linked to ground beef has now sickened 196 people, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The outbreak has effected 10 states: Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Minnesota, Mississippi, Ohio, Tennessee and Virginia.
The outbreak was first announced in early April, with 72 people sickened in five states.
People who have become ill reported eating ground beef in restaurants as well as ground beef bought it at grocery stores. Many of them said they bought large packages (called chubs) of ground beef and used it to make dishes such as spaghetti sauce and sloppy joes.
At this time, the CDC says that it has not identified a common supplier, distributor, or brand of ground beef that could explain the whole outbreak.
In addition to properly cooking ground beef the CDC has recommended these food safety steps:
• Always thaw ground beef (and any meat) in the refrigerator, not on the counter.
• Wash your hands and any kitchen equipment you used after handling raw meat with warm soapy water. Be careful not to touch the faucet with dirty hands. Use your elbow or a paper towel to turn it on. Be sure to wipe countertops down, too.
• Put cooked leftovers in the fridge or freezer within 2 hours. If you’re making sauce or another dish with ground beef, don’t let it cool too long on the counter before putting it into containers and refrigerating or freezing.