Colorado E coli cases prompt beef recall

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Aug 25, 2004 (CIDRAP News) – Four cases of infection with Escherichia coli O157:H7 in Colorado have led an Illinois company to recall about 406,000 pounds of ground beef and beef steaks, according to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced the recall by Quantum Foods of Bolingbrook, Ill., on Aug 20. "The recall was initiated after epidemiological case studies conducted by public health officials concluded the recalled product may be linked" to the four cases in Colorado, the FSIS said.

The products subject to recall were produced Jun 23 and 24 and distributed nationwide to restaurants, military installations, and retail stores and also through door-to-door sales, the agency said. Each box bears the establishment code "EST. 213-D" inside the USDA seal of inspection.

The affected products include ground beef patties, chopped steaks, Salisbury steaks, and sirloin steaks. The FSIS announcement included a long list of products sold in various package sizes and under various labels.

E coli contamination in beef is typically associated with ground meat, not steaks, because surface bacteria can be mixed into meat during grinding and then survive cooking if not heated enough. The FSIS stated, "Generally, steaks are not considered a high-risk source of E. coli O157:H7. However, some of the products subject to recall were needle tenderized and that process may have transferred the bacteria from the surface to the inside of the product."

The FSIS has not received reports of any more E coli cases associated with the recall since the Aug 20 announcement, spokesman Matt Baun told CIDRAP News today. He had no details about the four cases, and a call to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment was not returned in time for this report.

Consumers with questions about the recall can call Craig O'Brien, vice president for quality assurance at Quantum Foods, at 630-679-2384, the FSIS said.

See also:

Aug 20 FSIS news release

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