Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Half a million pounds of beef recalled on E.coli fears

NEW YORK (CNN) -- A voluntary recall was announced Monday for more than half a million pounds of ground beef because it may be contaminated with bacteria linked to at least two deaths, officials said.

Fairbank Farms of Ashville, New York, said the recall was issued Saturday for approximately 545,699 pounds of ground beef produced between September 14 and September 16 after the meat was "possibly linked" to E. coli O157:H7.

"Any customers from northeastern or mid-Atlantic states who have identified recalled ground beef products should remove the product from their freezers and return it to their stores for full reimbursement," the company said.

Lola Russell, a spokeswoman for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, confirmed a death in New York; Chris Nielsen, a spokeswoman for New Hampshire's State Department of Health and Human Services, confirmed another death in New Hampshire.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service said it learned of the problem during an investigation of a cluster of E. coli 0157:H7 illnesses in Connecticut, Maine and Massachusetts.

The recall was for distribution centers in eight states, but the company said some retailers may have sent the affected beef to other states.

The bacterium can cause bloody diarrhea, dehydration and kidney failure.

Retail outlets include: ACME, BJ's, Ford Brothers, Giant Food Stores, Price Chopper, Shaw's, and Trader Joe's. The products affected are listed on the USDA Web site.

Other grocers may also be recalling the products, which are already at least 23 days past their expiration date, meaning they are no longer being sold as fresh.

"We're assisting our customers in conducting this recall, and continue to urge consumers to check their freezers for ground beef products that are listed in the recall," said CEO Ron Allen in a news release. "Consumers who identify these products should return them to the point of purchase for a full refund."

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