The meat processor, a subsidiary of Cargill Meat Solutions, has initiated a recall for 29,339 pounds of its 85% lean fresh ground beef, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has announced.
The product in question was produced at the firm’s Wyalusing, Pennsylvania plant on 25 May 2012, before being shipped to distribution centres in Connecticut, Maine and New York.
The affected ground beef was repackaged by Cargill’s customers before sale to the consumer.
It was identified as a potential source of the outbreak during an investigation by federal and state authorities.
A total of 33 people were infected with the outbreak strain in seven states – Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, Virginia and Vermont.
Leftover product testing
“Cargill is initiating this recall as a result of its own investigation and information provided by federal health and regulatory agencies,” said the FSIS recall notice.
According to the FSIS statement, leftover product with no packaging information was collected during the course of an investigation by the Vermont Department of Health. The sample tested positive for the outbreak strain of Salmonella Enteritidis.
“Working in conjunction with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Vermont Department of Health, New York State Department of Health, and New York State Department of Agriculture & Markets, FSIS was able to link illnesses in five case-patients to the ground beef products produced at this establishment based on epidemiologic and trace back investigations, as well as in-store reviews,” said the FSIS recall notice.
The FSIS added that it continues to work with the CDC and health departments in the affected states. Meanwhile, Cargill Beef has issued an apology to anyone sickened by the beef it “may have produced.”
“Foodborne illnesses are unfortunate and we are sorry for anyone who became sick from eating ground beef we may have produced,” said Cargill Beef president, John Keating.
“Ensuring our beef products are safe is our highest priority and an investigation is underway to determine the source of Salmonella in the animals we purchased for harvest and any actions necessary to prevent this from happening,” Keating added.
36m turkey recall
Less than a year ago, Cargill was forced to recall millions of pounds of ground turkey after it was linked to an outbreak of Salmonella.
In August 2011, another subsidiary of Cargill Meat Solutions Corporation, Cargill Value Added Meats, recalled 36m pounds of ground turkey and temporarily ceased production at its Springdale, Arkansas plant – the source of the recalled product.
The contamination was linked to more than 100 illnesses across 31 states and one death.
The Springdale plant has since adopted high pressure processing (HPP) technology in an effort to enhance the safety of the meat products leaving the facility and reduce the potential for another Salmonella contamination.