September 2007

Elizabeth Weise and Steve Sternberg of USA TODAY wrote a few moments ago:

Company Expands Hamburger Recall

Topps Meat Company has expanded a recall of frozen hamburgers to 21.7 million pounds of patties because they may be contaminated with a deadly type of E. coli, making it the second-largest ground beef recall in U.S.

In June in an Op-ed I warned about the increasing recalls and illnesses tied to E. coli-tainted hamburger and red meat.  Now, according to a press release by Topps:

Topps Meat Company LLC, located in Elizabeth, NJ, has voluntarily expanded its recall announced on September 25 to include 21.7 million pounds of ground beef products that may be contaminated with E. coli O157:H7. This represents all products produced by Topps with a “sell by date” or “best if used by date” that falls between September 25, 2007 and September 25, 2008. This information may be found on the back panel of the package. All recalled products will have a USDA establishment number of EST 9748, which is located on the back panel of the package and/or in the USDA legend.

This recall tops the Con Agra recall of 19,000,000 pounds in 2002 that sickened over forty and killed one and is just under the 25,000,000 pounds recalled by now-bankrupt Hudson Foods in 1997.


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As of Friday afternoon, we had been contacted by 4 of the 21 confirmed victims of this most recent Topps E. coli problem.  As some may know this is not the first time Topps product has been implicated in an E. coli illness.  Again, this recall is just a huge example of an increasing problem with ground meat in the USA – prior recalls in 2007 include:

1. A federal consumer alert was issued by FSIS for meat products sold under the brand name “Northwest Finest” after six people in Washington, two people in Oregon and one in Idaho became sick from E. coli O157:H7. The organic beef was ground by Interstate Meat, a national meat wholesaler, located in Clackamas, Oregon. 42,000 pounds of meat was recalled.

2. At least thirteen people have been confirmed ill with E. coli O157:H7 infections after eating ground beef produced by United Food Group sold in Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, Wyoming and Montana. Over 5,700,000 pound of meat have been recalled.

3. Tyson Fresh Meats, Inc. recalled 40,440 pounds of ground beef products due to possible contamination with E. coli O157:H7. No illnesses yet reported.

4. Seven Minnesotans were confirmed as part of the E. coli O157:H7 outbreak that prompted PM Beef Holdings to recall 117,500 pounds of beef trim products that was ground and sold at Lunds and Byerly’s stores.

5. Twenty-seven people have been confirmed ill with E. coli O157:H7 infections in Fresno County. The Fresno County Department of Community Health inspected the “Meat Market” in Northwest Fresno, the source of the outbreak.

6. At least two people were confirmed ill with E. coli O157:H7 infections in Michigan after eating ground beef produced by Davis Creek Meats and Seafood of Kalamazoo, Michigan. The E. coli outbreak prompted Davis Creek Meats and Seafood to recall approximately 129,000 pounds of beef products that were distributed in Arkansas, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

7. Following reports of three Napa Valley children who became sick from hamburger patties sold at a St. Helena Little League snack shack, 100,000 pounds of hamburger (that was a year old) was recalled.

8. Several people were confirmed ill with E. coli O157:H7 infections in Pennsylvania after eating E. coli-contaminated meat products at Hoss’s Family Steak and Sea Restaurants, a Pennsylvania-based restaurant chain that purchased its meat from HFX, Inc., of South Claysburg, Pennsylvania. As a result of the outbreak, HFX recalled approximately 4,900 pounds of meat products.

The products subject to the Topps original and expanded recall include:


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Health officials suspect another Eight

Matthew Ralph of the News and Tribune has continued to follow this story:

The number of laboratory-confirmed E. coli cases has reached eight with another eight suspected all from the same group of cases linked to Galena Elementary, health officials said Friday. Dr. Tom Harris, Floyd County health officer,

MSNBC and AP reports:

USDA finds that Topps’ plant has inadequate safety measures

Federal inspectors said Friday that they suspended the grinding of raw products at the Topps Meat Co. after finding inadequate safety measures at the plant, which is being investigated because of E. coli bacteria-tainted hamburgers that may have sickened 25 people. U.S.

We have been contacted and retained by four families as of an hour ago. I thought it might be helpful to let my faithful blog readers know that  this is not the first time Topps product has sickened people:

www.ecoliblog.com

The other interesting fact is that outbreaks and recalls of E. coli (after a several