MEATPACKER recalls ground beef from 35 states, Washington D.C.

Thursday, August 30th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) _ IBP Inc. is recalling 500,000 pounds of ground beef from 35 states, including Oklahoma, that may be contaminated with the deadly bacteria E. coli.

The recall was voluntary, no illnesses have been associated with the product and it presents no danger if properly handled and thoroughly cooked, IBP said. The government recommends cooking all ground beef to 160 degrees to destroy bacteria.

IBP, the nation's biggest beef processor, recalled 266,000 pounds of ground beef in June.

The contamination was discovered through samples collected by the Agriculture Department's Food Safety and Inspection Service.

The beef was produced Aug. 7 in a Dakota City plant and distributed in five and 10-pound packages.

The beef was distributed to wholesalers, distributors and grocery stores in: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Maine, Maryland, Michigan Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, North Dakota, Nebraska, New Jersey, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington D.C., West Virginia and Wisconsin.

E. coli O157 can cause bloody diarrhea and dehydration and it can be deadly, especially in children, people with suppressed immune systems and the elderly. The bacteria kills an estimated 60 Americans each year and sickens an estimated 73,000.

The meat shipped to wholesalers bears the product code EST 245C SELL/FREEZE BY Aug. 25 A (or B) Box Codes D0271BH or D0371BH.

The microbe first appeared in cattle in the late 1970s and now shows up in entire herds. It was found in 28 percent of the cattle entering Midwest slaughterhouses last summer, according to an Agriculture Department study published this spring, and was even more prevalent inside the plants. Cattle can carry the bacteria on their hides as well as in their intestines.

USDA, which mandated testing of ground beef after an E. coli outbreak in the Pacific Northwest seven years ago, negotiated a new set of testing requirements with packers that were announced last year.

Many companies also have started irradiating beef to kill bacteria.