Northfolk Bison E. coli Outbreak: E. coli O121 and O103 Identified in Ground Buffalo Meat
Oh, give me a home, where the buffalo roam…but please, hold the E. coli contamination. A Canadian Company out of St. Leonard, Quebec, that distributes buffalo burgers and ground bison is connected to an E. coli outbreak here in the United States. At least twenty-one people have become ill from a strain of E. coli identified as O121 and O103. The twenty-one sickened individuals hail from seven states across the eastern and central United States. At least eight were hospitalized. As a part of the investigation, health workers interviewed a good portion of the sickened individuals and were able to confirm that more than two-thirds either confirmed eating buffalo and/or bison or report a high likelihood of having consumed this product.
Considered as a healthy alternative to beef, bison and buffalo meat have some popularity during the grilling season. Both bison and buffalo meat have a lower saturated fat content and contribute higher levels of iron to the diet. Understandably, these two large creatures are often confused with each other- both being large hoofed animals, classified as ‘bovines.’ It is thought that when the Europeans first came ashore on what is now
called North America, there were likely 60 million of these roaming bovines. Now, estimates put the number closer to 10,000. As such, the price per pound can be found nearly double that of beef.
The pricey packages of bison or buffalo burgers and of ground bison that are associated with this recall all have production dates between February 22, 2019 and April 30, 2019. The packaging is labeled as Northfolk Bison or Buffalo, and as either burgers or ground meat. And, packaging verifies the product as 100% Pure Canadian Buffalo or Bison Meat. The recall of these packages happened officially on July 16, 2019. Although the product is linked to the 21 ill individuals in the U.S., so far, no illnesses have been reported by Canadian consumers. Authorities, such as the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is alerting consumers to return this product to the retailer or distributor immediately.
The E. coli making consumers ill is presenting with symptoms such as bloody diarrhea, vomiting, fever and lethargy. In the worst cases, E. coli O121 and O103 can lead to hemolytic uremic syndrome, or HUS, which can result in kidney failure. The individuals who contracted this bacterium reported illness from March 18th to June 18th 2019. The CDC urges shelves to be cleared of this particular product during this recall. And, if you are preparing meat of any other brand, remember to practice good hygiene and always cook meat to an internal temperature of at least 160°, using a meat thermometer for verification.