Cargill ground beef recall - frequently asked questions

What happened?

On July 22, 2012, Cargill announced a voluntary recall of about 29,300 pounds of 85-percent-lean ground beef produced May 25, 2012, at our Wyalusing, Pa., plant because it may have contained Salmonella Enteritidis.

Has anyone gotten sick?

The Centers for Disease Control identified a higher than usual number of Salmonella Enteritidis illnesses in the Northeast U.S. during June 2012. There have been 33 illnesses associated with the outbreak, including two people who were hospitalized. The illnesses were reported in seven states: Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, Virginia and Vermont. 

Why is the recall being announced now?

Reports of foodborne illness come from numerous state departments of health. It can take time for a pattern to emerge, which leads to the complex process of officials trying to trace the origins of an outbreak.  There can often be several potential sources. Because of the illnesses, Cargill decided to announce a recall as soon as it was possible. 

What is Salmonella Enteritidis?

Salmonella Enteritidis is one of the most common out of more than 2,400 naturally occurring types of Salmonella worldwide. Salmonella Enteritidis has primarily been associated with eggs and chicken but can also be present in beef, milk and other foods. Cooking ground beef to an internal temperature of 160° F kills Salmonella, and most people don’t get sick from it. This particular strain of Salmonella Enteritidis is NOT antibiotic resistant. For more information, go to the CDC web page about Salmonella Enteritidis.

What are the symptoms of getting sick from Salmonella?

A person infected with Salmonella can have fever, abdominal cramps and diarrhea starting 12 to 72 hours after consuming it. It may last four to seven days, and most people recover without antibiotic treatment.  If the diarrhea is severe, a person might be hospitalized. The elderly, infants and those with impaired immune systems may have a more severe illness.

How can I tell whether I have any of the recalled ground beef?

Much of this ground beef is likely to have been eaten already. It was sold in stores in the Northeast U.S. at the end of May and early June. Because the stores packaged it themselves, we are working to identify a list of products and package dates so you can check your freezer. Hannaford Supermarkets has announced that it sold the ground beef in Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, New York and Vermont. Hannaford told the Associated Press that consumers can look for “use or sell-by” dates between May 29 and June 16. For the most recent information from the USDA, go to

How did Salmonella get into the beef?

Cargill and federal officials are working to identify the source of the Salmonella in the animals we purchased for the ground beef. Most types of Salmonella live in animals’ intestines. The environment, weather and other factors can affect the prevalence of bacteria at any given time.  

Do you test for Salmonella Enteritidis?

No. This particular strain of Salmonella Enteritidis in beef has not been linked to a public health problem before, and no validated test for it in fresh beef is commercially available.  

What are you doing to ensure this does not happen again?

Producing safe food is fundamental to Cargill. We have 700 food-safety professionals in our  North American meat businesses alone focused on the ongoing of challenges presented by nature. Cargill’s North American meat businesses have spent $1 billion over the past 10 years to enhance food safety, and we share what we learn and the technology we’ve developed with other companies. Read more about food safety at Cargill and what the president of Cargill Beef has to say about the investigation of Salmonella Enteritidis in the ground beef recall

If I bought some of this ground beef, what should I do?

Opened or unopened packages of the ground beef listed at can be returned to the store where you bought it for a full refund.

How can I get more information?

Call Cargill’s toll-free hotline (1-888-812-1646) for questions about the ground beef recall. The toll-free USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline (1-888-674-6854) is available in English and Spanish from l0 a.m. to 4 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday. Read more about safe food handling or submit a question to the USDA’s “Ask Karen.”