Western Ground Beef Recall Hits 5.7 Million Pounds

VERNON, Calif. - First it was pet foods, and now ground beef is at the center of a food safety recall that won't go away, as United Food Group, LLC here had to expand its June 3 and 6 recalls to a total of 5.7 million pounds late last week.

In a recall notice, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety Inspection Service said United expanded the recall "out of an abundance of caution" after fresh ground beef eaten by a patient in Arizona was positively tested for E. coli O157:H7. This tested product was sold under a major grocery store label, as opposed to a pre-packaged chub shipped from the recalling firm, FSIS said.

The fresh and frozen ground beef products subject to recall were produced between April 6 and April 20 and were shipped to retail stores in Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.

An investigation carried out by the California Department of Health Services and the Colorado Department of Health, in coordination with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, preceded the initial recall of June 3. Illnesses occurred in Arizona (6), California (3), Colorado (2), Idaho (1), Utah (1) and Wyoming (1). Illness onset dates ranged between April 25 and May 18. All patients have recovered, FSIS reported.

Based on product shelf life, fresh beef products produced on April 20 ought not to have been sold in grocery stores after May 11. Fresh beef produced before April 20 and would have been unavailable in stores even earlier, FSIS said in the latest recall notice, adding, "However, these products could be in consumers' freezers and it is important that consumers look for and return these products if they find them."

In addition to specific products bearing labels from the manufacturer, some fresh ground beef, from 73 percent lean to 96 percent lean, was shipped in bulk and sold under different retail brand names, the agency said. Several types of fresh ground beef patties, from 6.25 ounces to 7.25 ounces, were also shipped to retailers and sold under retail brand names.
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