E. coli Beef Recall Expanded Amid Illnesses

The recent June 24th Class I recall of potentially <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/topics/overview/e_coli_escherichia_coli">E. Coli-tainted JBS Swift Beef Company beef products has been expanded, said the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS). A Class I recall is a health hazard situation in which there is a reasonable probability that use of the product will cause serious, adverse health consequences or death. The recall has been expanded to include approximately 380,000 pounds of assorted beef primal products.

We reported late last week that JBS Swift Beef issued a recall of approximately 41,280 pounds of beef products over E. coli contamination concerns. The original problem was discovered through FSIS microbiological sampling and an investigation into the distribution of other products.

Now, JBS Swift Beef Company, of Greeley, Colorado, has voluntarily expanded its original recall to include approximately 380,000 pounds of assorted beef primal products that may be contaminated with E. coli O157:H7, said the FSIS. Together with traceback information and laboratory data, the recall is being expanded as a result of FSIS’ cooperation with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in an ongoing investigation into 24 illnesses in multiple states. According to the FSIS, at least 18 of the reported illnesses appear to be associated. JBS Swift is a unit of Brazilian meat company JBS S.A., said Reuters.

Reuters reported that the expansion brings the total amount of recalled beef products to about 421,000 lbs, citing the USDA and JBS Swift Beef. The affected beef was produced on April 21, said Reuters, explaining that it was distributed both nationally and internationally.

The recalled products include intact cuts of beef, such as primals, sub-primals, or boxed beef that is typically used for steaks and roasts, not ground beef. FSIS is aware that some of the recalled products may have been further processed into ground products by other companies and noted that the highest risk products are raw ground product, trim, or other non-intact product made from the products subject to the recall.

This investigation prompted JBS Swift Beef to re-examine the effectiveness of its food safety system for the April 21 production of beef primals, and implemented the expanded recall out of an abundance of caution, as the safety of the products produced on a portion of that day could not be assured. The beef products were produced on April 21, 2009 and distributed both nationally and internationally. A complete list of the products subject to the expanded recall can be accessed at: http://www.fsis.usda.gov/PDF/RC_034-2009_EXP.pdf

Each box of the recalled beef bears the establishment number “EST. 969″ inside the USDA mark of inspection, as well as the identifying package date of “042109” and a time stamp ranging from “0618” to “1130”; however, because these products were sent to establishments and retail stores nationwide for further processing, they will likely no longer bear the establishment number ” on products available for direct consumer purchase. The FSIS suggests customers with concerns contact their point of purchase. “The contamination may have come from further processing by other companies,” Chandler Keys, JBS spokesman, said, quoted Reuters.

An indicator of fecal contamination, E. coli O157:H7 is a potentially deadly bacterium that may cause fatal blood poisoning (septicemia), urinary bladder inflammation (cystitis), kidney failure, and death. Infection symptoms include stomach cramps and watery diarrhea that may turn bloody within one to three days.

E. coli generally taints meat through improper butchering and processing practices and, once released in the body, produces the shiga-producing toxins that have been linked to kidney damage in young children. The very young, seniors, and persons with weakened immune systems are the most susceptible to food borne illness.

JBS Swift’s Consumer Hotline is toll-free 1-800-555-7675.

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