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Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

Rocky Mountain Natural Meats Recalls Buffalo Due to E. coli Illnesses in Colorado and New York

Rocky Mountain Natural Meats, a Henderson, Colo. establishment, is recalling approximately 66,000 pounds of ground and tenderized steak bison products. 

FSIS became aware of the problem during the course of an on-going investigation into a cluster of E. coli O157:H7 illnesses in Colorado with illness onset dates between June 4, 2010 and June 9, 2010. Working in conjunction with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Food and Drug Administration, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and the New York Department of Health, 5 case-patients have been identified in Colorado as well as 1 case-patient in New York with an indistinguishable PFGE pattern. FSIS determined that there is an association between the ground bison products and the cluster of illnesses in the state of Colorado. FSIS is continuing to work with the CDC, affected state public health partners, and the company on the investigation.  Pack/Codes:

The following products are subject to recall:

· 16-ounce packages of “GREAT RANGE BRAND ALL NATURAL GROUND BISON.” These products have a “sell or freeze by” date of June 21, June 22 or June 24, 2010.

· 16-ounce packages of “NATURE’S RANCHER GROUND BUFFALO.” These products have a “sell or freeze by” date of June 22, 2010.

· 16-ounce packages of “THE BUFFALO GUYS ALL NATURAL GROUND BUFFALO 90% LEAN.”  These products have a lot number of 0147.

· 12-ounce packages of “GREAT RANGE BRAND ALL NATURAL BISON STEAK MEDALLIONS.”  These products have a “sell or freeze by” date of June 23 and June 24, 2010

· 12-ounce packages of “GREAT RANGE BRAND ALL NATURAL BISON SIRLOIN STEAKS.”  These products have a “sell or freeze by” date of June 20, June 23 and June 24, 2010

· 15-pound boxes of “ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATURAL MEATS, INC. BISON 10 OZ SIRLOIN STEAK.” These products went to restaurants and bear a Julian Code of 0141.

The products subject to recall bear the establishment number “EST. 20247” inside the USDA mark of inspection.   These products were produced between the dates of May 21, 2010 through May 27, 2010.

These products were distributed to retail establishments nationwide and food service distributors in Utah and Arizona. While the sell-by dates for these products have passed, FSIS and the establishment are aware that consumers may also freeze the product before use and there is concern that some product may still be frozen and in consumers’ freezers.

As I said to the Washington Post a few days ago about recalls:

When it comes to food recalls, the government doesn’t estimate the average return rate.

William Marler, a Seattle lawyer who has represented plaintiffs in major food-poisoning cases since 1993, said food recalls generally are not effective, especially when they involve perishables, vegetables or meat, for example. "By the time they figure out they have an outbreak and they can connect it to a food, most of that food is already eaten," he said.

And when it comes to foods with a longer shelf life, Marler said people have often eaten the product and become sick after it has been recalled.