Ground Beef Recall Issued By Stew Leonard's After E. Coli Sickens ThreeSep 13, 2007 | Parker Waichman LLP, LLP
Three people who ate meat purchased at a Yonkers, New York supermarket have been diagnosed with E. coli poisoning, prompting the store to recall some of its ground beef. Stew Leonard’s issued the recall as a precaution, and health authorities do not believe that the E. coli contamination originated at the supermarket.
E. coli is a bacteria normally found in the digestive tracts of cows. Ground beef and other meats can become contaminated with E. coli bacteria during the slaughtering process. In humans the bacteria can cause diarrhea and dehydration, and is especially dangerous for older people, young children and anyone with a weakened immune system. While most people will recover from E. coli poisoning within 7-10 days, extreme cases can lead to kidney failure and death. Some people with E. coli will require hospitalization, and even dialysis treatments or blood transfusions. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), E. coli is one of the leading causes of food borne illness in the US. The CDC estimates that there are at least 73,000 cases of infection and 61 deaths every year as a result of this E. coli strain. But the number could be much higher, because many cases of E. coli poisoning are never reported.
Three people in one family became ill from E. coli bacteria after eating ground beef purchased at the Stew Leonard’s store in Yonkers. While it appears that the ground beef was undercooked, the company decided to issue the recall as a precaution. Packages of Stew Leonard’s 96 percent lean ground beef round sold between June 30 and August 1 should be returned to the company by customers who still have the product in their freezer. The beef in question came from two separate suppliers, and was ground in the store.
Thoroughly cooking meats to an internal temperature of 160-degrees will kill most E. coli bacteria. A meat thermometer should be used to determine temperature, and color is no indication that meat has been cooked properly. Raw meats should be kept away from other foods, and utensils used to prepare raw meat should never be used on other foods without first being washed.
This Stew Leonard’s recall is the third ground beef recall due to E. coli contamination this month. On August 31, Interstate Meats of Oregon recalled more than 41,000 pounds of ground beef sold under its “Northwest Finest” label. The recall came after the tainted ground beef was linked to an E. coli outbreak that sickened 9 people in the Pacific Northwest. And on September 6, New York meat processor Fairbanks Farms recalled trays of ground beef patties sold in Shaw’s supermarkets in New England after the meat tested positive for E. coli. No illnesses were reported in relation to that recall.