WASHINGTON — At least seven people have fallen ill with E. coli after consuming ground beef sent to them by popular meal-prep delivery service HelloFresh, according to federal health officials. Six of those people had to be hospitalized.
On Wednesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a food safety alert warning people about the dangers of consuming ground beef included in some HelloFresh deliveries sent in July.
Although the meat has been linked to an E. coli outbreak, the U.S. Department of Agriculture declined to issue a recall notice because the meat was not being sold anymore.
The ground beef was delivered in meal kits shipped between July 2 and July 21 to consumers around the country, according to the notice posted online. The meat itself was packed in 10 oz. vacuum-sealed bags that shipped with a variety of meals.
The beef was labeled "GROUND BEEF 85% LEAN/15% FAT" and any affected packages have “EST.46841” inside the USDA inspection mark and “EST#46841 L1 22 155” or “EST#46841 L5 22 155” on the side of the packaging.
HelloFresh is a meal kit service that sends ingredients and recipes for customers to prepare in their own homes.
All six people interviewed by the CDC about their illness reported eating ground beef from HelloFresh before getting sick.
Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Washington each reported at least one case of E. coli in their states connected to the outbreak. The CDC says investigators are working to determine if any other ground beef may have been contaminated.
Anybody who froze ground beef from HelloFresh in July to save for later is being urged by the CDC to throw the meat away and to wash any surfaces or containers that may have touched it thoroughly.
Symptoms of E. coli infection include severe stomach cramps, diarrhea (often bloody) and vomiting.
These symptoms usually start three to four days after consuming the bacteria, and most people recover without treatment five to seven days later.
Some people may develop serious kidney problems during the course of the infection and need to be hospitalized.