Frozen steaks recalled in E coli outbreak investigation

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Jun 30, 2003 (CIDRAP News) – Stampede Meat, Inc., Chicago, is recalling about 739,000 pounds of frozen beef products because of a possible link to five Escherichia coli O157:H7 infections in Minnesota, Kansas, and Michigan, the US Department of Agriculture announced yesterday.

The products being recalled were produced between Mar 17 and 22 and bear the establishment code "EST. 19113" inside the USDA mark of inspection, the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) said in a news release.

The products, mostly vacuum-packaged steaks, were distributed to restaurants, institutions, and retail stores nationwide and also sold to consumers door-to-door, the FSIS said.

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) announced Jun 27 it was investigating four cases of E coli O157:H7 infection that may be associated with eating frozen steaks sold by door-to-door vendors. The cause of the outbreak has not been confirmed, but the department was investigating frozen steaks sold by Farmers Pride Meat Co. under the name "Home Chef's Selections," officials said. The products were produced by Stampede Meats of Chicago, MDH spokesman Doug Schultz told CIDRAP News today. Farmers Pride has Minnesota offices in Blaine and Duluth, he said.

The people became ill between May 27 and Jun 18, the MDH said. They include adults in St. Louis, Carlton, and Hennepin counties and a child in Washington County. One adult was hospitalized with the illness.

"Steaks are usually not a high-risk source of E coli," said Kirk Smith, supervisor of MDH's foodborne illness investigation team, in a news release. "E coli bacteria usually exist on the outside of steak, so searing usually kills it. However, these specific products are injected with tenderizers and flavor-enhancing solutions, and that process may transfer the bacteria to the inside of the steak. If it is not cooked thoroughly, the E coli can survive and cause illness."

The products implicated in the Minnesota investigation include bacon-wrapped fillets with a production date of 3-19-03 on the label, the MDH said. Smith said it is not known how widely the products were distributed.

Consumers with questions about the Stampede Meats recall may contact Bill Asleson, company executive manager, at 800-353-0933, the FSIS said.

See also:

FSIS news release
http://www.fsis.usda.gov/OA/recalls/prelease/pr028-2003.htm

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