Ground beef recall, possible cause of E. coli outbreak

Labels from Fairbank Farms recalled contaminated beef, from the company's Web site.

Labels from Fairbank Farms recalled contaminated beef, from the company's Web site.

From the Associated Press with additional reporting by Brenda Sullivan

Contaminated fresh ground beef has caused a possible E. coli outbreak that killed two people and sent 16 others to hospitals, federal health officials said Monday, Nov. 2.

Contaminated beef produced by Fairbank Farms of Ashville, N.Y.  may be the cause of illness in 28 people – 18 in New England, said Lola Scott Russell, spokesperson for The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

[Also see Fairbank Farms Website statement: http://www.fairbankfarms.com ]

Fairbank Farms notes the recalled products are, “very specifically defined and are past their expiration date by 23 to 32 days. This means they are no longer being sold as fresh product in supermarkets.”

The CDC did not specify the states where people were hospitalized, although the product has been linked to illnesses in Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts.

“The products have been cleared from store shelves,” said CDC Commissioner Jerry Farrell Jr., “but families who have frozen ground beef over the past few weeks in Connecticut from Trader Joe’s, Shaw’s, BJ’s Warehouse or Price Chopper should look on the package for the code that would indicate if it’s part of the recalled batch.”

Some of the ground beef was sold in packages that carried the number “EST. 492″ on the label.

Customers with these products should contact the stores where they bought the meat to receive a refund.

Fairbank Farms voluntarily recalled almost 546,000 pounds of fresh ground beef that had been distributed in September to stores from North Carolina to Maine.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s recall notice, dated Saturday [Oct. 31], said the possibly tainted meat had been sold in numerous ways, from meatloaf and meatball mix to hamburger patties.

One of the deaths was an adult from Albany County, N.Y., who had several underlying health conditions, according to the state Health Department.

The other fatality was previously reported by New Hampshire, where health officials said a patient died of complications.

Kidney failure is found in the most severe cases of E. coli. In less serious cases, the bacterium can cause bloody diarrhea and dehydration.

Companies subject to such recalls are allowed to cook tainted meat to kill the bacteria and then use it in other products, a common practice in the food industry.That won’t happen in this case, the company said.

Symptoms of E. coli infections usually show up three to four days after a person eats contaminated food, although in some cases it can be as long as eight days. Officials said anyone having symptoms should immediately contact a doctor.

Consumers with questions about the recall also can contact Fairbank Farms’ toll-free consumer hotline at  1-877-546-0122. The hotline will be open daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Eastern Standard Time

How to identify the recalled beef

To identify recalled products, check the package label and look for the product name, package weight and sell-by date. All labels will show an establishment number of EST 492 inside the USDA mark of inspection. Recalled products include:

Packaged products (Sell-by dates ranging from 09/19/09 through 09/28/09)

  • Wild Harvest Natural Angus Ground Beef 85/15, 1#
  • Lancaster Brand Extra Lean Ground Beef 96/04, 1#
  • Lancaster Brand Ground Beef 90/10, 1# & 2#

BJ’s Wholesale Club/Burris

Packaged products (Sell-by dates ranging from 09/19/09 through 09/28/09)

  • Fresh Ground Beef Patties 85/15, 5#
  • Lean Ground Beef 93/07, 3# & 5#
  • Meatloaf and Meatball Mix, 2.5#

Price Chopper

Packaged products (Sell-by dates ranging from 09/19/09 to 09/28/09)

  • Price Chopper Meatloaf & Meatball Mix, 1# & 2.5#
  • Price Chopper Extra Lean Ground Beef 96/4, 1#
  • Price Chopper Fresh Ground Beef Chuck for Chili 80/20, 1#

Shaw’s Supermarkets, Inc.

Packaged products (Sell-by dates ranging from 09/19/09 to 09/28/09)

  • Shaw’s Fresh Ground Beef 93/7, 1# and 2#
  • Shaw’s Fresh Ground Beef 80/20, 1#, 2#, 3#
  • Shaw’s Fresh Ground Beef 75/25, 1# and 3#
  • Shaw’s Fresh Ground Sirloin Beef Patties 90/10, 1.3#
  • Shaw’s Fresh Ground Round Beef Patties 85/15, 1.3#
  • Shaw’s Fresh Ground Beef Patties 80/20, 1.3#
  • Shaw’s Fresh Ground Beef Patties Family Pack 80/20, 3#
  • Shaw’s Angus Ground Beef 85/15, 1#
  • Shaw’s Fresh Ground Round Beef 85/15, 1#, 2#, 3#
  • Shaw’s Natural Ground Beef 90/10, 1#
  • Shaw’s Natural Ground Beef 85/15, 1#
  • Shaw’s Fresh Ground Sirloin 90/10, 1#, 2#, 3#
  • Meatloaf & Meatball Mix, 1#

Trader Joe’s

Brick packs (Sell-by dates 10/06/09 or10/07/09)

  • Trader Joe’s Butcher Shop Fine Quality Meats Ground Beef 85/15, 1#
  • Trader Joe’s Butcher Shop Fine Quality Meats Ground Beef 80/20, 1#

Packaged Products (Sell-by dates ranging from 09/19/09 to 09/28/09)

  • Trader Joe’s Butcher Shop Fine Quality Meats Beef Patty 85/15, 1#
  • Trader Joe’s Butcher Shop Fine Quality Meats Ground Beef 96/4 Extra Lean, 1#

Other products

Cases of 10-lb. Fairbank Farms fresh ground beef chubs (for store grind).

These products had a sell date of 10/3/09, 10/4/09 or 10/5/09, but will likely not bear those sell-by dates on their package labels.

These products were distributed to retail establishments in Maryland, Massachusetts, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Virginia for further processing.

Posted Nov. 4, 2009



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