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

WASHINGTON, May 17, 2000--Eaves Food Incorporated, an Elberton, Ga., firm, is voluntarily recalling approximately 28,860 pounds of 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 was produced on May 10, and distributed to grocery stores in Florida, Georgia, Illinois, North Carolina and South Carolina.

The products subject to recall are "BUBBA burger" brand 1/3 pound burgers in two-pound and four-pound packages and "BUBBA burger" 1/3 pound burgers with Vidalia onion in two-pound packages. All packages labeled with a nine-digit code number beginning with "131" are being recalled. The package labels also bear "EST.19292" inside the USDA seal of inspection.

Consumers and media with questions about the recall may contact Eric Eaves, Eaves Food, at (706) 283-2763.

"Because of the potential hazard of foodborne illness from consumption of underprocessed meat products contaminated with pathogens such as the E. coli O157:H7 bacteria, I urge consumers who have purchased the suspect product not to eat it and return it to the place of purchase," said Thomas J. Billy, FSIS administrator. "USDA is informing the public so consumers who may have purchased and stored the product in their freezers can know to check."

The problem was discovered through routine FSIS microbiological sampling.

E. coli O157:H7 is a potentially deadly pathogen that can cause bloody diarrhea and dehydration. The very young, the elderly, 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 with food safety questions can phone the toll-free USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-800-535-4555. The hotline can be reached from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Eastern Time) Monday through Friday.

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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

Consumers should only eat ground beef patties that have been cooked to a safe temperature of 160 F. When a ground beef patty is cooked to

160 F 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 F 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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