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Sunday, December 30, 2007

Truck With Possible E. Coli Tainted Beef Stolen

American Fresh Foods has announced that a truck loaded with 14,800 pounds of ground beef, some of it possibly infected with E. coli O157:H7, was stolen last Thursday. People have been advised to refrain from buying ground beef from dubious vendors. The refrigerated truck had been parked in the company's car park when it was stolen.

The company stressed that its regular meat products that are sold through normal retail outlets are safe. A company spokesman said there is concern for public safety regarding the stolen truck, because apart from their being possibly tainted produce inside, the truck was carrying a limited supply of refrigeration fuel, raising the chances that the produce could go rotten very quickly.

The company added that it is working closely with the USDA (US Department of Agriculture) and local authorities.

Below is a description of the products to look out for, they form part of this alert:

-- 73/27 Ground Beef
2 lbs approx weight packages
sell-by date 12.30.07
production times 14:27 - 15:28

-- 80/20 Ground Beef Chuck
2 lbs approx weight packages
sell-by date12.31.07
production times between 13:40 - 14:27

-- 85/15 Ground Beef Round
1 lb approx weight packages
sell-by date of 12.31.07
production times between 13:51 - 17:01

-- 90/10 Ground Beef Sirloin
1 lb approx weight packages
sell-by date of 12.31.07
production times between 13:49 - 15:35

-- 96/04 Extra Lean Ground Beef 4% Fat
1 lb approx weight packages
sell-by date of 12.31.07
production times 14:25 - 17:22

-- 73/27 100% Ground Beef; Rework Map
40 lbs net wt. box

-- Chuck 100% Ground Beef; Rework Map
260 lbs net wt. combo bin

-- Sirloin 100% Ground Beef; Rework
370 lbs net wt. combo bin

All the produce listed above was produced on 19th December.

About E. coli O157:H7 (Escherichia coli O157:H7)

E. coli O157:H7 is a strain (enterohemorrhagic) of Escherichia coli, a bacterium. It is a cause of foodborne illness. About 73,000 people are infected and 61 people die each year in the USA.

Infected young children and elderly people are the most susceptible to complications, such as bloody diarrhea, occasionally kidney failure, and hemolytic uremic syndrome (red blood cells are destroyed).

In most cases, however, the infected person will just experience abdominal pains, usually no fever, and diarrhea - the illness resolves within a week or so. In some cases the infected person will have no symptoms at all and never knew he/she had been infected.

The most common cause of human infection is the consumption of undercooked, contaminated ground beef, unpasteurized milk, swimming in contaminated water, drinking contaminated water, and eating contaminated vegetables.

Cooking any contaminated foods thoroughly will destroy the E. coli.

Preparing ground beef for safe consumption

-- Before and after you handle it wash your hands with warm soapy water for at least 20 seconds.

-- Wash cutting boards, utensils and dishes with hot soapy water.

-- Do not use the same cutting board for raw meat and other foods you are going to eat.

-- Clean spills immediately.

-- Do not let the raw meat near any foods that you are not going to cook.

-- Make sure ground meat patties have been cooked to a safe internal temperature of 160 F.

-- Do not rely on the meat's color to tell you whether it has been cooked to a high enough temperature. Color is not a reliable indicator.

-- The only way you can be really sure your meat has been cooked well enough to kill the bacteria is to use a thermometer to measure the internal temperature.

-- On a hot day (over 90 F) refrigerate the meat within one hour of purchasing it. On non-hot days do this within two hours of purchasing it.

-- Any meat you do not consume after cooking has to be refrigerated within two hours after cooking.
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