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Bison meat and E. coli outbreak

Ground bison meat has been linked to an E. coli outbreak in seven states, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Twenty-one people in Connecticut, Florida, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania have been infected with the E. coli O103 and O121 strains. CDC and FDA has launched an investigation into cases of Shiga-toxin producing E. coli O103 and O121 strains.

According to CDC, 21 people infected with the outbreak strains and eight of those people were hospitalized. So far, no deaths or cases of hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a type of kidney failure, have been reported.  HUS is a disease condition that can occur when blood vessels in the kidneys become damaged and cause clots to form in the vessels. The clots in the kidneys can lead to kidney failure, which could be life-threatening. Some of the initial stage sign and symptoms  of HUS may include:

  • Diarrhea, which is often bloody
  • Abdominal pain, cramping or bloating
  • Vomiting
  • Fever

Check to see if you have recalled products in your home. Recalled products should be thrown out or returned to the store where they were purchased. Food contaminated with E. coli O121 and O103 may not look or smell spoiled but can still make you sick. Symptoms can include nausea, vomiting, mild to severe abdominal cramps and watery to bloody diarrhea. In severe cases of illness, some people may have seizures or strokes, need blood transfusions and kidney dialysis or live with permanent kidney damage. In severe cases of illness, people may die. If you known someone who may be experiencing similar, please ask them to talk to their healthcare provider, write down what they ate in the week prior to becoming sick, report their illness to the health department and assist public health investigators by answering questions about their illness.

FDA has posted the details of Food Recall Warning on their website. The FDA also posted photos of the bar code labels on its website. They show the products, packaged between February 22 and April 30, under the names of Fossil Farms, Northfork Canadian Bison Ranch and SayersBrook Bison Ranch. Please visit:

For your information: FDA regulates bison meat because the United States Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA-FSIS) has NOT been assigned authority to inspect bison meat under the Federal Meat Inspection Act.

What you should do?

If you are a food service and/or food processing operation and believe that you have handled recalled or other potentially contaminated meat products in your facility, you should:

  • Contact your local health department and let them know regarding your possible exposure to a pathogen.
  • Wash the inside walls and shelves of the refrigerator, cutting boards and counter-tops, and utensils that may have contacted contaminated foods;
  • Sanitize everything all contaminated all food contact surfaces with a solution of one tablespoon of chlorine bleach to one gallon of hot water; dry with a clean cloth or paper towel that has not been previously used.
  • Wash and sanitize display cases and surfaces used to potentially store, serve, or prepare potentially contaminated foods.
  • Wash hands with warm water and soap following the cleaning and sanitation process.
  • Conduct regular frequent cleaning and sanitizing of cutting boards and utensils used in processing to help minimize the likelihood of cross-contamination.


PHOTO: Northfork Bison Distributions Inc. of St. Leonard, Quebec is recalling its Bison Burgers & Bison Ground because they have the potential to be contaminated with E. coli: O121 and O103.