Cargill's ground beef being recalled

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Cargill Meat Solutions Corp., based out of Wyalusing, Pa, is recalling about 8,500 pounds of ground beef that may have been tainted with Escherichia coli O26, the United States Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced on Saturday.
 
The ground beef products of concern include 42-pound cases of GROUND BEEF FINE 90/10 with three 14-pound chubs each package, which was marked with "use/freeze by" date of "07.01/10" and an identifying code of "W69032".
 
The recalled beef products, produced on June 10, 2010, carry the company's establishment number "EST 9400" inside the USDA mark of inspection. The beef was shipped to distribution centers in Connecticut and Maryland where it was repacked into consumer-size packages and sold under various brand names.
 
The USDA believes certain BJ's Wholesale Club stores in Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York and Virginia may have received the recalled beef products.
 
The FSIS advised food consumers to check their freezers and immediately discard any beef product subject to the recall.
 
The agency got aware of the problem on Aug 25, 2010 when it was notified by the Maine Department of Agriculture, Food and Rural Resources of an E. coli O26 cluster of illnesses.  The agency determined that the ground beef products subject to the recall have something to do with the illnesses.
 
What prompted the recall, according to the USDA, were two cases of E coli illnesses in Maine and one in New York.  A Cargill spokesman was cited as telling CNN yesterday that none of the three needed to be hospitalized.
 
E. coli O26 can cause bloody diarrhea, dehydration, and in the most severe cases, kidney failure. At high risk are the very young, seniors and persons with weak or compromised immune systems, such as cancer and HIV patients.
 
This pathogenic bacterium is not as commonly publicized as E coli O157:h7, which is the worst type of E coli; that particular type can produce toxins and lead to bloody diarrhea; in extreme cases, it can cause kidney failure and even death.
 
According to foodsafety.gov, the common sources for E coli contamination are undercooked beef, especially hamburger, unpasteurized milk and juice, raw fruits and vegetables (such as sprouts), soft cheeses made from raw milk, feces of infected people, and contaminated water.
 
The incubation period is 1 to 8 days; once Escherichia coli illness occurs, it may last 5 to 10 days.
 
Those who experience E coli illness should not use antibiotics to treat this infection. Instead, they should drink plenty of fluids and get rest. If they can't drink fluids, they should call their doctors, according to foodsafety.gov.
 
The FSIS advises that food consumers should only eat ground beef or ground beef patties that have been cooked to an internal temperature of 160° F.

By Jimmy Downs and editing by Rachel Stockton

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