E. Coli Concerns Prompt Beef Trim Recall by Snow Creek Meat Processing

Snow Creek Meat Processing, of Seneca, South Carolina, has issued a recall of about 75 pounds of fresh beef trim products that may be contaminated with the <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/topics/overview/e_coli_O157_H7">E. coli O157:H7 pathogen, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS). The recall has been deemed a Class I Recall, which means that the hazard situation is one in which there is a reasonable probability that the use of the product will cause serious, adverse health consequences or death.

The products subject to recall include a variety of sizes of Cryovac bags of “BEEF TRIMMINGS, BEEF ITEM” packed in boxes. Each box bears the establishment number “EST. 20478″ inside the USDA mark of inspection and a “Sell By” date of “06/02/09.” These fresh beef trim products were produced on June 2, 2009, and were distributed to retail establishments for further processing in North Carolina and South Carolina. The problem was discovered through FSIS microbiological sampling.

An indicator of fecal contamination, E. coli may cause fatal blood poisoning, cystitis, deadly septicemia, and death. Symptoms of E. coli infection 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, and can also lead to kidney failure and death.

E. coli infection can be transmitted through poor hygiene or hand-washing habits when bacteria in diarrheal stools are involved. According to CDC estimates, there are over 110,000 cases of E. coli infection and 90 deaths linked to E. coli occurring in the U.S. annually. Some shiga-producing E. coli infections—such as strain O157:H7—are diarrheagenic bacteria termed “enterohemorrhagic E. coli.” Strain O157:H7 is the more common of the strains and has been recently blamed for the Valley Meats Class I recall of 95,898 pounds of ground beef products.

The FSIS recommends consumers wash hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds before and after handling raw meat and poultry; wash cutting boards, dishes, and utensils with hot soapy water; and immediately clean spills. Keep raw meat, fish, and poultry away from foods that will not be cooked, and always use separate cutting boards for raw meat, poultry and egg products, and cooked foods. Refrigerate raw meat and poultry within two hours after purchase or one hour if temperatures exceed 90° Fahrenheit. Refrigerate cooked meat and poultry within two hours after cooking.

The FSIS urges consumers to only eat ground beef or ground beef patties that have been cooked to a safe internal temperature of 160° Fahrenheit; color is NOT a reliable indicator that such meat has been cooked to a temperature high enough to kill harmful bacteria such as E. coli O157:H7. A thermometer is the only accurate way in which to measure the internal temperature of meat.

Consumers with food safety questions can “Ask Karen,” the FSIS virtual representative available 24 hours a day at AskKaren.gov. The toll-free USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) is available in English and Spanish from l0:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. ET, Monday through Friday; recorded food safety messages are available 24 hours a day.

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