US: E. coli kills 2; Focus is on beef
Posted: November 3rd, 2009 - 8:09am
Source: New York Times
Two people, one from New Hampshire and another from upstate New York, have died after eating ground beef that may be responsible for an E. coli outbreak linked to illness in more than two dozen people.
The suspect beef was produced by a company in western New York State, Fairbank Farms, which issued a voluntary recall Saturday for 545,699 pounds of ground beef products.
The products in question are ground beef or packaged beef patties that were made from Sept. 14 to Sept. 16 and distributed mostly in the Northeast. All are stamped “EST 492,” either within the Department of Agriculture’s mark of inspection or near the nutrition facts.
The products went to retailers in eight states: Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Virginia. The stores receiving them included Trader Joe’s, Giant, Price Chopper, Wild Harvest and Shaw’s.
Agnes Schafer, a spokeswoman for Fairbank Farms, based in Ashville, N.Y., noted that no tests had yet proved conclusively that the company’s products were the source of the bacterial outbreak, to which public health investigators have linked the illnesses of at least 28 people.
Ms. Schafer also said all the recalled products were 23 to 32 days past their sell-by dates as of Monday, and so none should still be on grocery store shelves.
But Beth Daly, an epidemiologist with the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services, said there was still some danger. “We’re more concerned that people have this product in their freezer and might still be eating it,” Ms. Daly said.
Donna Rosenbaum, executive director of Safe Tables Our Priority, a food safety organization, said the Fairbank Farms recall, and a smaller beef recall on Oct. 26 in Massachusetts by Crocetti’s Oakdale Packing Company, showed that the nation’s food inspection system needed reform.