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Cargill recalls 1m pounds ground beef in US

Chicago, November 4, 2007

Agricultural giant Cargill said it was recalling more than 1 million pounds of ground beef distributed in the US because of possible E coli contamination.

Cargill Meat Solutions said the 1.084 million pounds (491,700 kg) of ground beef was produced at the Wyalusing, Pennsylvania, facility between Oct 8 and Oct 11, and distributed to retailers across the country.

The retail chains that sold the beef include Giant, Shop Rite, Stop & Shop, Wegmans and Weis.

The US Department of Agriculture returned a confirmed positive for the E coli bacteria on a sample produced on Oct 8, the privately owned company said.

The USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service said the problem was discovered through follow-up investigation and sampling after a positive E. coli test at another federal establishment.

Symptoms of E. coli 0157:H7 illness, the strain associated with the recall, include potentially severe stomach cramps, diarrhea and dehydration. Children, the elderly and people with poor immune systems are the must vulnerable.

'No illnesses have been associated with this product,' John Keating, president of Cargill Regional Beef, said in a statement. 'We are working closely with the USDA to remove the product from the marketplace.'

Rep Bart Stupak, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee's subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, said Cargill CEO Greg Page had been asked to testify on Nov 13 at a committee hearing on food safety.

'This latest recall of more than a million pounds of beef is of great concern,' Stupak, a Michigan Democrat, said in a statement.

The recalled products have use/freeze-by dates of Oct 19 through Nov 3. Most will have the USDA establishment number of EST 9400 inside the USDA mark of inspection.

In addition, there are various weights and varieties of ground beef distributed for further processing and repackaging that will not have the same establishment number.

The recall was the second by Minneapolis-based Cargill in a month. On Oct 7, the company recalled about 844,812 pounds (383,200 kg) of frozen beef patties produced at a Wisconsin plant.

In September, Topps Meat recalled 21.7 million pounds (9.8 million kg) of ground beef after a string of E. coli-related illnesses. It was the fifth-largest meat or poultry recall in US history.

Topps, the biggest US manufacturer of frozen hamburgers, has since gone out of business.

Cargill, a global agribusiness conglomerate, is among the largest privately held companies in the world. Cargill posted earnings of $2.3 billion on sales of $88.27 billion in the fiscal year ended May 31.Reuters




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