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E. Coli Concerns Prompt California Ground Beef Recall

January 19, 2010

A California meat packing company has recalled some 864,000 pounds of ground beef due to concerns the meat might be contaminated with the potentially deadly E. coli bacterium, the Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) said Monday.

Most of the recalled beef made by Montebello, Calif.-based Huntington Meat Packing Inc. was sold to distribution centers, restaurants and hotels in California between Feb 19 and May 15, 2008, and between Jan 5 and Jan 15, 2010 under the Huntington, Imperial Meat and El Rancho brands. 

No illnesses associated with consumption of the recalled meat have been reported, the U.S. food safety arm said.

The incident began after an initial problem in ground beef shipped by the plant from January 5 to January 15 was discovered during a routine safety check, the FSIS said.

Upon further review of the firm’s records, inspectors found that other products made and shipped in 2008 may also have been contaminated, the FSIS said.  That batch was produced from February 19, 2008, to May 15, 2008, and was also shipped to California outlets.

“While these products are normally used fresh, the establishment is taking this action out of concern that some product may still be frozen and in commerce,” the FSIS said in a statement posted on its Web site.

“FSIS routinely conducts recall effectiveness checks to verify recalling firms notify their customers (including restaurants) of the recall and that steps are taken to make certain that the product is no longer available to consumers,” the service said.

E. coli O157:H7 is a potentially lethal bacterium that can cause bloody diarrhea, dehydration, and kidney failure in the most severe cases. Seniors, the very young and those with weakened immune systems are the most vulnerable to foodborne illness.

The food service agency recommended that consumers safely prepare their raw meat products, and only consume ground beef that has been cooked to a temperature of 160° F.

“The only way to be sure ground beef is cooked to a high enough temperature to kill harmful bacteria is to use a food thermometer to measure the internal temperature,” the FSIS said.

The following products, which include all ground beef products produced by the plant from January 5, 2010 to January 15, 2010, are subject to the recall:

- 40 lb. boxes of “Huntington Meats Ground Beef”
- 40 lb. boxes of “Huntington Meat Pkg. Inc. Beef Ground for Further Processing
- 40 lb. boxes of “Beef Burrito Filling Mix”
- 10 lb. boxes of “Imperial Meat Co. Ground Beef Patty”
- 20 lb. boxes of “Imperial Meat Co. Ground Beef Patty”
- 10 lb. boxes of “El Rancho Meat & Provision All Beef Patties”

Also subject to the recall are the following products produced from February 19, 2008 to May 15, 2008:
 
- 40 lb. boxes of “Huntington Meats Ground Beef”
- 40 lb. boxes of “Huntington Meat Pkg. Inc. Beef Ground For Further Processing”
- 40 lb. boxes of “Beef Burrito Filling Mix”
- 10 lb. boxes of “Imperial Meat Co. Ground Beef Patty”
- 20 lb. boxes of “Imperial Meat Co. Ground Beef Patty”
- 10 lb. boxes of “El Rancho Meat & Provision All Beef Patties”

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