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E. Coli Fears Prompt Meat Recall in Hawaii

May 9, 2008 | Parker Waichman LLP

Palama Meat Company is voluntarily recalling some ground beef products processed at its Kapolei plant in Hawaii that  between April 9-21 due to possible E. Coli contamination.  Approximately 4,500 cases of ground beef-related products are affected.  To date, Palama Meat has recovered about 40% of the product affected by this recall.

Consumers who have any of the following products are asked to return the product to point of purchase for a refund.  The following products with any of the associated Lot Codes are subject to recall.  A label with the production Lot Code is on every case and the production Lot Code is the date of production in a six-digit number in a Year Day Month (YR DY MO) format:

Six- and 10-pound boxes containing 1/4-pound and 1/3-pound "May's Teriyaki Beef Patties" with Product Code 157400, 157600, or 157700.  These items will have the following Product Dates and related Production Lot Codes:  4/09/2008 and 080904, 4/10/2008 and 081004, 4/11/2008 and 081104, 4/15/2008 and 081504, 4/16/2008 and 081604, 4/17/2008 and 081704, 4/18/2008 and 081804, or 4/21/2008 and 082104.

24-pound bulk boxes of "May's Beef Picnic Patties” with Product Code 158700 and Product Dates with related Production Lot Codesof 4/11/2008 and 081104 or 4/18/2008 and 081804. Ten-pound boxes of “May’s Beef Pattie, 3:1 Layer Pack” with Product Code 158325 and Product Dates with related Production Lot Codes of 4/10/2008 and 081004 or 4/17/2008 and 081704.

Three-pound trays of "May's GROUND BEEF Family Pack" with Product Code 410751 and Product Date with related Production Lot Code 4/16/2008 and 081604.

Five- and 10-pound chubs of May's brand coarse ground and fine ground beef products with Product Code: 141115, 141120, 143915, 141420, 144150, 144155, 144200, 144205, 144209, 145410, 145420, 151115, 151415, 151430, or 153220 and Product Dates with related Production Lot Codes 4/9/2008 and 080904, 4/15/2008 and 081504, 4/16/2008 and 081604, 4/17/2008 and 081704, 4/18/2008 and 081804, or 4/21/20 and 08082104.

Escherichia coli is a relatively common bacteria found in the human digestive tract and is normally harmless; however, some strains, including those linked to food poisoning, are serious and can cause fatal blood poisoning, cystitis, and deadly septicemia.  In the United States, E. coli is the leading cause of food-borne illness.  About 73,000 people are infected and 61 people die from it E. coli each year.  And, last year alone, over 22 million pounds of beef and vegetables were recalled due to E. coli outbreaks.

In the last two years, a variety of food pathogens have killed several people, sickened more than 1,300 others, and touched nearly every state in the country as well as Canada.  The problem is difficult to police because the food-surveillance system is outdated, under-funded, and overwhelmed by the emergence of mega-farms, -distribution centers, and -transporters.  Scientists have expressed concern that infections from antibiotic resistant E.coli bacteria are spreading into the greater population and several countries also now report cases of antibiotic-resistant E.coli.  Other researchers compare the E.coli threat to the worldwide problem of community-acquired MRSA—methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus—an antibiotic-resistant staph developing resistance to the last drug of choice.

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