It has been a rough few months for meat suppliers in the United States.
Following two major beef recalls, one in September a deadly E. Coli outbreak and another in October over fears of salmonella, the US Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service has announced the expansion of their most recent beef recall.
This time, more than five million pounds of beef supplied by JBS Tolleson Inc. is believed to be tainted with salmonella. Bringing up the grand total to 12 million pounds.
The products, which were produced and packaged between July 26 and September 7, include the brands Kroger, Cedar Farms, Grass Run Farms, and JBS generic. They should have a USDA mark with the establishment number "EST.267" printed on the packaging.
In the previous recall, it was revealed that the Arizona-based company shipped "various raw, non-intact beef products," including ground beef and burgers, to retailers all over the country that sold them under different brand names, including Walmart, Cedar River Farms Natural Beef, Showcase, and JBS Generic.
So far, the outbreak has caused 246 illnesses across 25 states, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). While no deaths have been reported, at least 56 people have been hospitalized.
"FSIS [The Food Safety and Inspection Service] is continuing to investigate illnesses associated with this widespread outbreak, and additional product from other companies may also be recalled," read the recall notice.
Food safety authorities are asking people to throw away or return any recalled products back to where they made the purchase.
According to the FSIS, it's highly likely that people have unknowingly stored recalled beef in the freezer, so it's imperative to double check the production dates on the labels.
Salmonella symptoms usually start 12 to 72 hours after a person eats food contaminated with the dangerous bacteria, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Diarrhea, cramps, fever that spans several days, nausea, bloody stools, chills, headache, and vomiting are all characteristics of the food-borne illness.
Many of these signs will last for up to a week, but diarrhea may persist, which usually becomes a cause for hospitalization.
If you suspect that you or a member of your family has eaten recalled meat, you should monitor the symptoms and contact your health care provider right away.
As a rule of thumb, use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of meat you're cooking. Make sure it reaches at least 160 degrees Fahrenheit in order to eliminate bacteria that could cause illness.