E.coli Contamination Concerns

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Two people from El Paso County are among those who became ill from bacteria-tainted meat. Officials believe the ground beef may have originated from the Con-Agra beef company in Greeley.

The company voluntarily recalled some of the meat on July 1st after a sampling came up positive for E.coli. At the time, there were no reports of illnesses. But now it appears Safeway stores in Colorado may have purchased and sold some of that meat.

Investigators say even though both people who came down with the E.coli contamination live in El Paso County, they don’t think they purchased the tainted meat here. The state health department suspects a link between the outbreak and ground beef sold at Colorado Safeway stores. They say, if you have ground beef with the sell by dates of June 7th through June 28th, take it back to the store for a refund.

The initial contamination came from 80% lean hamburger, but Safeway is concerned about cross-contamination. So the recall involves all ground beef products packaged in white or yellow styrofoam trays. It's possible the recall could still expand.

El Paso County health officials say they've put out an alert to all area health professionals asking them to look for more cases.

Safeway wants to stress this recall does not include any ground beef currently available at Safeway stores. But you may want to check your freezer. If you find ground beef with those dates return, it to the store for a refund.

The El Paso County Health Department has issued guidelines for protecting yourself against E.coli contamination.

  • Contaminated meat can look and smell normal..
  • Only a small amount can infect you.
  • E.coli is a common bacteria.
  • Animals can carry it and not get sick.
  • E.coli is not just found in undercooked meat; you can also find it on fruits, vegetables and in unpasturized fruit juices and drinking water.

    Here are some tips to keep the bacteria from infecting you..

  • Use a thermometer to make sure you cook ground beef to 160-degrees.
  • Wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly.
  • Drink only pasteurized juices and milk.
  • If you are concerned about your drinking water, boil it for one minute at a rolling boil.

    Typically, the incubation period is 3-9 days after eating something tainted with E.coli, however it can be shorter or longer.


  • Severe stomach ache
  • Cramps
  • Diarrhea.

    To recover:

  • Drink lots of fluids and eat healthy..
  • Illness should run its course within 2-weeks.
  • Those at risk for developing severe symptoms are the very young, old or if you have a weakened immune system.