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General Mills Jeno's and Totino's Frozen Meat Pizza E. Coli Recall

Nov 1, 2007 | Parker Waichman LLP General Mills announced a recall Jeno’s and Totino’s frozen meat pizza products today after they were linked to an outbreak of E. coli 0157:H7 in 10 states.   According to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) recall announcement, the General Mills Jeno’s and Totino’s frozen meat pizza E. coli outbreak began in mid-July, and since that time, General Mills has distributed about 120 million potentially contaminated pizzas to retailers throughout the country.  

The General Mills Jeno’s and Totino’s frozen meat pizza recall is the third major food recall issued in a little over a month that has followed a widespread outbreak of food-borne illness.  In late September, Topps Meat Company ground beef left 40 people sick from E. coli, leading to the recall of more than 21 million pounds of ground beef.  Meanwhile ConAgra pot pies, recalled in early October, have been blamed for more than 270 cases of Salmonella poisoning around the country.

At least 21 people have contracted the same E. coli 0157:H7 strain linked to the General Mills Jeno’s and Totino’s frozen meat pizzas, and nine of those victims have reported eating the E. coli-tainted pizzas prior to becoming ill.  E. coli is a bacterium that occurs naturally in the intestines of most animals, including humans, but the E. coli 0157:H7 strain can be particularly dangerous to people.  The symptoms of E. coli poisoning usually occur within 3 to 9 days after a victim eats contaminated foods.  E. coli 0157:H7 causes the sudden onset of stomach pain and severe cramps, followed by diarrhea that is watery and bloody.   While most people will recover completely within a week, E. coli poisoning can be very dangerous for children, the elderly and anyone with a weak immune system.  According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), E. coli 0157:H7 is responsible for sickening 73,000 people every year, and of those, 60 will die from the disease.

The General Mills Jeno’s and Totino’s frozen meat pizza recall involves 414,000 cases of the products.  Included are eight UPC codes of Totino’s brand frozen pizza and three UPC codes of Jeno’s.  All of the pizzas are made with pepperoni topping, or toppings that incorporate other meats with pepperoni.
The recalled General Mills frozen meat pizzas were produced on or before October 30, 2007 and distributed to retail establishments nationwide.  Each package bears the establishment number “EST. 7750” inside the USDA mark of inspection, and a “best if used by date” of “02 APR 08 WS.”   The “best if used by date” on the General Mills frozen meat pizzas is based on a 155-day shelf life, so consumers were are urged to check their freezers for the recalled pizzas.  

According to the USDA, the Jeno’s and Totino’s E. coli outbreak was first detected by the Tennessee Department of Health working with the CDC.   So far, Jeno’s and Totino’s frozen meat pizzas have been linked to E. coli outbreaks in Illinois (1), Kentucky (3), Missouri (2), New York (2), Ohio (1), Pennsylvania (1), South Dakota (1), Tennessee (8), Virginia (1), and Wisconsin (1).  While all of the victims of the General Mills E. coli outbreak have fortunately recovered so far, at least half of them did require hospitalization.  

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