Here we go again: E. coli ground beef recall

January 14, 2008

Only two weeks into the new year and we have the first major ground beef recall (there was actually a smaller one on January 5).

Rochester Meat Company, a Rochester, Minn. firm, is voluntarily recalling approximately 188,000 pounds of ground beef products because they may be contaminated with E. coli O157:H7.

The problem was discovered through an investigation initiated by the Wisconsin Department of Health and Family Services and the California Department of Public Health into five illnesses in Wisconsin and one illness in California.

Preparing Ground Beef For Safe Consumption

USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline 1-888-MPHOTLINE or visit http://www.fsis.usda.gov

Although these products are not available at retail establishments, the USDA is recommending that consumers preparing ground beef products heed the following advice.

Wash hands with warm, soapy water for at least 20 seconds before and after handling raw meat and poultry. Wash cutting boards, dishes and utensils with hot, soapy water. Immediately clean spills.

Keep raw meat, fish and poultry away from other food that will not be cooked. Use separate cutting boards for raw meat, poultry and egg products and cooked foods.

Consumers should only eat ground beef or ground beef patties that have been cooked to a safe internal temperature of 160°F.

Color is NOT a reliable indicator that ground beef or ground beef patties have been cooked to a temperature high enough to kill harmful bacteria such as E. coli O157:H7.

The only way to be sure ground beef is cooked to a high enough temperature to kill harmful bacteria is to use a thermometer to measure the internal temperature.

Refrigerate raw meat and poultry within two hours after purchase or one hour if temperatures exceed 90°F. Refrigerate cooked meat and poultry within two hours after cooking.

The ground beef products subject to recall were produced on Oct. 30, 2007, and Nov. 6, 2007. The products subject to recall were shipped to distributors nationwide for further distribution to restaurants and food service institutions. These products were not available for purchase by consumers in retail establishments.

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