Michigan-based Wolverine Packing Company has voluntarily recalled about 1.8 million pounds of beef products on Monday, May 19, following possible contamination of the products with E. coli (Escherichia coli), a bacteria associated with serious illnesses and infections.

 The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) made the recall announcement on Monday following several cases of E. coli infection in four states in the U.S., which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and FSIS linked with the ground beef products from Wolverine Packing Company.

Five individuals from Michigan, four from Ohio, and one from both Missouri and Massachusetts fell ill with E.coli between April 22 and May 2. Of the ten patients interviewed about the foods they have eaten, 100 percent reported having eaten at a restaurant before they fell ill. The restaurants in turn identified Wolverine Packing Company as the source of their ground beef.

"FSIS was notified of E. coli O157:H7 illnesses on May 12, 2014," the FSIS said in a news release. "Working in conjunction with public health partners from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), FSIS determined through a traceback investigation that there is a link between the ground beef products from Wolverine Packing Company and this illness cluster."

The recalled beef products were produced between March 31 and April 18 and are marked with establishment number EST. 2574B. They were distributed for restaurant use in Michigan, Missouri, Massachusetts, and Ohio but results of investigations suggest that the products were also distributed nationwide.

The strain responsible for the outbreak was the Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli O157:H7 or STEC O157:H7. Although most STEC-related illnesses can resolve within a week, some illnesses can be more serious and may last longer.

Certain types of STEC cause bloody diarrhea, dehydration, abdominal cramps and hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a condition that could lead to kidney failure. HUS happens more frequently in young children five years and below and in older adults although it can also occur to anyone. It is characterized by reduced urine output and blood in the urine. No HUS has fortunately been reported with the E.coli outbreak albeit six of those who fell ill were hospitalized.

The recall is categorized as "Class I" which means that there is possibility that consuming the recalled beef products could cause serious health consequences and even death. Consumers who need further information about the recall may reach Wolverine Packing Company through their contact number (262) 563-5118.

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