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Calif Massive Food Recall

Posted by feww on February 14, 2010

Calif meat company recalls another 5 million lbs of beef, veal

The latest recall by the company brings its total recall to 5.8 million lbs*, USDA said.

*[The equivalent of about 94 million burgers!]

Huntington Meat Packing Inc. of Montebello, California, first recalled 864,000 lbs of beef on January 18, suspecting E.coli contamination. They have now expanded the initial recall because the beef and veal products did not follow the company’s food safety procedures, USDA said.

“The products are adulterated because the company made the products under unsanitary conditions failing to take the steps it had determined were necessary to produce safe products,” the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) reported.

The boxes of suspect meat bear “EST. 17967” ID number marked within the USDA inspection label and were produced between January 22, 2009, and January 4, 2010. All of The boxes were reportedly shipped to distribution centers, restaurants, and hotels within the state of California.

The recall was expanded based on evidence collected in  with assistance from FSIS, USDA said.

An ongoing criminal investigation by the Office of the Inspector General has uncovered evidence indicating that the food safety records of the company were unreliable, USDA reported.

A colorized version of PHIL 7137 depicting a highly magnified scanning electron micrographic (SEM) view of a dividing Escherichia coli bacteria, clearly displaying the point at which the bacteria’s cell wall was dividing; Magnification 21674x.

Escherichia coli is a Gram-negative bacterium that normally colonizes the digestive tract of most warm-blooded animals, including human beings. E. coli are facultative in nature, which means that they can adapt to their environments, switching between aerobic, and anaerobic metabolic growth depending environmental stresses. One strain of E. coli, O157:H7, causes an estimated 73,000 cases of infection, and 61 deaths in the United States each year. Infection often leads to bloody diarrhea, and occasionally to kidney failure. Most illness has been associated with eating undercooked, contaminated ground beef. Person-to-person contact in families and child care centers is also an important mode of transmission. Infection can also occur after drinking raw milk and after swimming in or drinking sewage-contaminated water. Content Providers: CDC/ Evangeline Sowers, Janice Haney Carr. Photo Date: 2005. Photo Credit: Janice Haney Carr

What is Escherichia coli?

Escherichia coli (abbreviated as E. coli) are a large and diverse group of bacteria. Although most strains of E. coli are harmless, others can make you sick. Some kinds of E. coli can cause diarrhea, while others cause urinary tract infections, respiratory illness and pneumonia, and other illnesses. Still other kinds of E. coli are used as markers for water contamination—so you might hear about E. coli being found in drinking water, which are not themselves harmful, but indicate the water is contaminated. It does get a bit confusing—even to microbiologists.

What are Shiga toxin-producing E. coli?

Some kinds of E. coli cause disease by making a toxin called Shiga toxin. The bacteria that make these toxins are called “Shiga toxin-producing” E. coli, or STEC for short. You might hear them called verocytotoxic E. coli (VTEC) or enterohemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC); these all refer generally to the same group of bacteria. The most commonly identified STEC in North America is E. coli O157:H7 (often shortened to E. coli O157 or even just “O157”). When you hear news reports about outbreaks of “E. coli” infections, they are usually talking about E. coli O157. (Source: CDC.)

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