Sunday, 2 September 2007

Consumers warned on tainted beef

Consumers warned on tainted beef
By Katy ByronCNN

(CNN) -- Federal and state health officials issued a consumer alert Thursday after nine people were sickened by contaminated beef.

A day before the start of what historically is a popular weekend for grilling, officials urged consumers to check the beef in their freezers and make sure it doesn't include possibly tainted meat.

The 41,205 pounds (approximately 20 tons) of beef identified as possibly tainted is no longer on store shelves, because the sell-by dates have already expired.

But the alert was issued anyway in case the product remains in consumers' freezers, the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture said.

Nine people have been sickened -- six in Washington, two in Oregon, and one in Idaho -- by the beef, which is contaminated with E. coli bacteria, state health officials reported.

The meat, processed between July 19 and July 30, according to the company, was also sold in Alaska, but no illnesses have been reported there.

Authorities identified the suspect products as 16-ounce packages of "Northwest Finest 7% Fat, Natural Ground Beef" with UPC code label "752907 600127" and 16-ounce packages of "Northwest Finest 10% Fat, Organic Ground Beef" with expiration dates between August 1 to August 8.

The beef was sold in Safeway, QFC, and Fred Meyer and other stores.

DNA tests confirmed that the nine people sickened by E. coli were infected with the same strain of the bacteria.

Federal and state health officials say that E. coli bacteria are killed if beef is cooked at 160 degrees

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