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Beef Recalled by NJ Company

Nov 28, 2008 | Parker Waichman LLP

Long Branch, New Jersey’s Dutch Prime Foods, Inc. is recalling about 345 pounds of ground beef products over concerns of E. coli O157:H7 contamination, according to   a press release issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Services (FSIS).

The meat product involved is DUTCH PRIME FOODS HAMBURGER and was contained in five- and 10-pound vacuum-sealed bags which bear the establishment number “EST. 5206″ inside the USDA mark of inspection, reported  The Dutch Prime Foods Hamburger ground beef products were produced on November 18th and subsequently distributed to New Jersey restaurants, said  The potential contamination was discovered through a routine FSIS sampling procedure.

E. Coli O157:H7 is one of hundreds of strains of the bacterium Escherichia coli.  Although most strains are harmless, O157:H7 produces a powerful toxin that can cause severe illness and even death.  Found in the intestines of healthy cattle, deer, goats, and sheep and generally found on most cattle farms, in petting zoos, E. coli contamination can occur in a variety of ways.  For instance, meat can become contaminated during slaughter, and organisms can be accidentally mixed into meat when it is ground; bacteria present on the cow's udders or on dairy equipment can contaminate raw milk; and E. coli can contaminate the ground, railings, feed bins, and fur of the animals in petting zoos.  E. coli has also been known to originate from consumption of sprouts, lettuce, spinach, salami, unpasteurized milk and juice, and by swimming in or drinking sewage-contaminated water.

Once infected, the bacteria in the loose stool of infected persons can be passed from one person to another if hygiene or hand washing habits are inadequate, such as among toddlers who are not toilet trained.  Family members and playmates of these children are at high risk of becoming infected. Young children typically shed the organism in their feces for a week or two after their illness resolves.  Older children and adults rarely carry the organism without symptoms

People generally become ill from E. coli O157:H7 two to eight days—with a three-to-four day average—following exposure.  E. coli O157:H7 infection often causes severe, bloody diarrhea and abdominal cramps, but can occasionally occur with non-bloody diarrhea or no symptoms. Usually little or no fever is present, and the illness resolves in five to 10 days. In children under five years of age and the elderly, the infection can also cause a complication called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), in which the red blood cells are destroyed and the kidneys fail.

According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia, food borne illnesses cause about 76 million illnesses, 325,000 hospitalizations, and up to 5,000 deaths annually.  Reuters recently discussed the long-term effects of food borne illness and how such contaminations can have serious and sometimes lasting effects, pointing to HUS, a long-term consequence of E. coli known to cause pediatric kidney failure.

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