21.7 million pounds of hamburger recalled
The Topps Meat Co. on Saturday expanded its recall of frozen hamburger patties to include 21.7 million pounds of ground beef that may be contaminated with E. coli bacteria that have sickened more than a dozen people in eight states.
The recall of products distributed to U.S. grocery stores and food service institutions was a drastic increase from the 332,000 pounds recalled Tuesday.
The recall represents all Topps products with a “sell by date” or a “best if used by date” between Sept. 25, 2007, and Sept. 25, 2008. The New Jersey-based company said this information is on a package’s back panel.
The recalled products also have a USDA establishment number of EST 9748 on the back panel of the package or in the USDA legend, the company said.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture said Friday that it had suspended the grinding of raw products at the Topps plant after inspectors found inadequate safety measures. The USDA declined to detail the inadequate measures.
“Because the health and safety of our consumers is our top priority, we are taking these expansive measures,” said Geoffrey Livermore, Topps’ operations vice president.
He said Topps had augmented its procedures with microbiologists and food safety experts. “We sincerely regret any inconvenience and concerns this may cause our consumers,” Livermore said.
The USDA reported three confirmed cases of E. coli from Topps products, and 22 other cases were under investigation. Cases have been reported in Connecticut, Florida, Indiana, Maine, New Jersey, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
E. coli causes intestinal illness that usually clears up within a week for adults but can be deadly for the very young, the elderly and people with compromised immune systems. Symptoms can include severe stomach cramps, bloody diarrhea and, in extreme cases, kidney failure.
A list of the recalled products is available at www.toppsmeat.com.
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