International Meat Recalls Ground Beef Over Possible E. coli Contamination

International Meat Company, Inc., located in Chicago, Illinois, is recalling about 6,152 pounds of ground beef products that may be contaminated with <"">E. coli O157:H7, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) just announced. The recall is a Class I, meaning there exists a health hazard situation in which there is a reasonable probability that the use of the product will cause serious, adverse health consequences or death.

The recalled ground beef products were produced on June 17 – 19, 2009, and were shipped to distributors and restaurants in the Chicago metropolitan area. The problem was discovered through FSIS microbiological sampling. FSIS has received no reports of illnesses associated with consumption of these products. NOTE: Each box bears establishment number “EST. 22080″ inside the USDA mark of inspection and identifying package codes of “061709,” “061809,” or “061909.” The products subject to recall are:

“5-pound, plastic lined boxes of “International Meat Co., PURVEYOR OF FINE MEATS TO HOTELS AND RESTAURANTS, BEEF PATTIES.”
“5- and 10-pound bags of bulk “International Meat Co., BEEF PATTIE MIX.”
“10-pound bags of “International Meat Co., GROUND BEEF.”
“10-pound bags of “Packed For, Purely Gourmet & Organic, Ground Beef.”

An indicator of fecal contamination, E. coli may cause fatal blood poisoning, cystitis, deadly septicemia, and death. Symptoms of 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.

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. Strain O157:H7 is the more common of the E. coli 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/poultry within two hours after purchase or one hour if temperatures exceed 90° Fahrenheit. Refrigerate cooked meat/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 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. Questions regarding the recall should be directed to company Controller John Scorza at 1-773-622-1400.

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