Calif. Company Recalls 1M Pounds of Ground Beef

August 10, 2010

A meat processor recalled about 1 million pounds of ground beef products after seven people were sickened by E. coli contamination.

Valley Meat Co., of Modesto, Calif., sold the potentially contaminated beef patties and ground beef in California, Texas, Oregon, Arizona and internationally, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said.

The beef was processed from Oct. 2, 2009, to Jan. 12, 2010. Most of the products were sold frozen. The company was working with the USDA to identify stores where the products were sold and remove the items from shelves.

The USDA would likely have a list of retailers available in three to 10 working days, department spokesman Neil Gaffney said.

“This is the first recall in our history and we will investigate the matter thoroughly and take any measures deemed necessary to further elevate our safety standards, protect consumers, and ensure confidence in our products,” Valley Meat said in a statement.

All of the recalled products have the establishment number “EST. 8268” inside the label’s USDA mark of inspection. Valley Meat said consumers should discard possibly affected meat or return it to stores for a refund.

The California Department of Health notified the USDA in mid-July of a cluster of E. coli-related illnesses, leading to the recall. The department said at least seven California residents were sickened between February and June. A meat sample collected from a patient’s freezer confirmed the source of the outbreak.

Most of the infected patients were in Northern California, with exposures in Marin, Mendocino, Placer, Santa Cruz, Shasta, Siskiyou and Kern counties. None of the patients required hospitalization, and all have recovered, Health Department spokesman Ralph Montano said.

Tests identified the bacteria as E. coli O157:H7, the strain most commonly responsible for food poisoning.

Symptoms of infection often include often include severe stomach cramps, diarrhea, vomiting and a low fever. More serious infections can lead to kidney failure, brain damage and sometimes death.

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