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Florida Firm Recalls Ground Beef For Possible E. coli O157:H7

WASHINGTON, Dec. 9, 2002--Publix, a retail store at 4849 Coconut Creek Parkway, Coconut Creek, Fla., is voluntarily recalling approximately 120 pounds of fresh ground beef that may be contaminated with E. coli O157:H7, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service announced today.

The ground beef products being recalled are packaged in foam trays of varying weights bearing the sell-by date "12/07/02." The products subject to recall are:

  • "PUBLIX BEEF LEAN GROUND (7% FAT),"
  • "PUBLIX BEEF GROUND SIRLOIN,"
  • "PUBLIX BEEF GROUND ROUND,"
  • "PUBLIX BEEF GROUND CHUCK," and
  • "PUBLIX BEEF GROUND."

The ground beef was produced on Dec. 5 and distributed to customers of the Publix retail store in Coconut Creek, Fla.

"I urge consumers who have purchased the suspect product not to eat it and return it to the place of purchase because of the potential hazard of foodborne illness," said Garry L. McKee, FSIS administrator. "USDA is informing the public so consumers who may have purchased and stored the product in their refrigerators or freezers can know to check."

The problem was discovered through routine FSIS microbiological sampling.

E. coli O157:H7 is a potentially deadly bacteria that can cause bloody diarrhea and dehydration. The very young, seniors and persons with compromised immune systems are the most susceptible to foodborne illness.

FSIS has received no reports of illnesses associated with consumption of this product. Anyone concerned about an illness should contact a physician.

Consumers and media with questions about the recall may contact Maria Rodamis, Publix spokesperson, at (305) 652-2411 ext. 3810.

Consumers with food safety questions can phone the toll-free USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-800-535-4555. The hotline is available in English and Spanish and can be reached from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Eastern Time) Monday through Friday. Recorded food safety messages are available 24 hours a day.

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NOTE: Access news releases and other information at the FSIS Web site at http://www.fsis.usda.gov

PREPARING GROUND BEEF FOR SAFE CONSUMPTION

USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline
1-800-535-4555 or visit www.fsis.usda.gov

Although the product being recalled should be returned to the place of purchase, consumers preparing other ground beef products should heed the following advice.

Consumers should only eat ground beef patties that have been cooked to a safe temperature of 160 ºF. When a ground beef patty is cooked to 160 ºF throughout, it can be safe and juicy, regardless of color.

The only way to be sure a ground beef patty is cooked to a high enough temperature to kill harmful bacteria is to use an accurate digital instant-read thermometer.

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

Eating a pink or red ground beef patty without first verifying that the safe temperature of 160 ºF has been reached is a significant risk factor for foodborne illness.

Thermometer use to ensure proper cooking temperature is especially important for those who cook or serve ground beef patties to people most at risk for foodborne illness because E. coli O157:H7 can lead to serious illness or even death. Those most at risk include young children, the elderly, and those with compromised immune systems.




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