Consumers from North Carolina to Maine are being advised to check their freezers for ground beef, including meatloaf or meatball mix, possibly related to two deaths and more than two dozen illnesses in other states.
Even Salisbury steaks and stuffed peppers made in stores from Sept. 16 to Oct. 6 could pose a problem, according to Acme Markets.
A recall of more than a half-million-pounds of ground beef was issued Friday by its producer, Fairbank Farms of Ashville, N.Y.
The packages were sold under a variety of brand names, ranging from Acme Markets' Lancaster Brand Ground Beef and Extra Lean Ground Beef to Giant Food Stores Meatloaf and Meatball Mix to Trader Joe's Butcher Shop Fine Quality Meats Ground Beef. (See full list below.)
Consumers are advised to look for packages with sell-by dates of Sept. 19 through Sept. 28. The number "EST. 492" would also be inside the USDA inspection mark or on the nutrition label.
"Consumers who identify these products should return them to the point of purchase for a full refund," said Ron Allen, Fairbank Farms CEO.
The concern is that the meat may have been tainted with a strain of e. coli that kills about 50 Americans a year, according to the Center for Disease Control.
Today, a federal health official disclosed that e. coli apparently contributed to a death in New York state. Health officials in New Hampshire previously suggested a link to a death there.
Twenty-six other cases have been reported, mostly in New England.
Ground beef should always be cooked thoroughly - to an internal temperature of 160 degrees or more - to kill any bacteria mixed in by the grinding process.
Originally, the recall applied to eight states - Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, New York, Connecticut, Virginia, Massachusetts and North Carolina.
Because some of the food chains may have redistributed packages, Fairbank Farms has expanded the range to include all Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic states.
Here's the list of recalled products, all packaged products with sell-by dates of 9-19-09 to 9-28-09 (unless specified):
Acme Markets. Lancaster Brand Ground Beef 90/10, 1-pound and 2-pound trays. Lancaster Brand Extra Lean Ground Beef 96/04, 1-pound tray. Wild Harvest Natural Angus Ground Beef 85/15, 1-pound tray. Also: "store-made ground beef products including meatballs, meatloaf, Salisbury steak and stuffed peppers," according to Acme.
BJ's Wholesale Club/Burris. Fresh Ground Beef Patties 85/15, 5-pound tray. Lean Ground Beef 93/07, 3-pound and 5-pound trays. Meatloaf and Meatball Mix, 2.5-pound tray.
Ford Brothers Fresh Ground Beef Patty 80/20, 3-pound tray.
Giant Food Stores. Giant Meatloaf & Meatball Mix, 1-pound tray. Giant Nature's Promise Ground Beef, 1-pound tray. Giant Nature's Promise Ground Beef Patties, 1-pound tray. Giant Extra Lean Ground Beef 96/04, 1-pound tray.
Price Chopper. Price Chopper Meatloaf & Meatball Mix, 1-pound and 2.5-pound trays. Price Chopper Extra Lean Ground Beef 96/4, 1-pound tray. Price Chopper Fresh Ground Beef Chuck for Chili 80/20, 1-pound tray.
Trader Joe's. Brick packs with sell-by dates of 10/06/09 or 10/07/09): Trader Joe's Butcher Shop Fine Quality Meats Ground Beef 85/15, 1-pound brick pack, and Trader Joe's Butcher Shop Fine Quality Meats Ground Beef 80/20, 1-pound brick pack. Packaged Products with sell-by dates of 9/19/09 to 09/28/09: Trader Joe's Butcher Shop Fine Quality Meats Beef Patty 85/15, 1-pound tray, and Trader Joe's Butcher Shop Fine Quality Meats Ground Beef 96/4 Extra Lean, 1-pound tray.
Shaw's Supermarkets. Shaw's Fresh Ground Beef 93/7, 1-pound and 2-pound trays. Shaw's Fresh Ground Beef 80/20, 1-pound, 2-pound, 3-pound trays. Shaw's Fresh Ground Beef 75/25, 1-pound and 3-pound trays. Shaw's Fresh Ground Sirloin Beef Patties 90/10, 1.3-pound tray. Shaw's Fresh Ground Round Beef Patties 85/15, 1.3-pound tray. Shaw's Fresh Ground Beef Patties 80/20, 1.3-pound tray. Shaw's Fresh Ground Beef Patties Family Pack 80/20, 3-pound tray. Shaw's Angus Ground Beef 85/15, 1-pound tray. Shaw's Fresh Ground Round Beef 85/15, 1-pound, 2-pound, 3-pound trays. Shaw's Natural Ground Beef 90/10, 1-pound tray. Shaw's Natural Ground Beef 85/15, 1-pound tray. Shaw's Fresh Ground Sirloin 90/10, 1-pound, 2-pound and 3-pound trays. Meatloaf & Meatball Mix, 1-pound tray.
Other products. Cases of 10-pound Fairbank Farms Fresh Ground Beef Chubs. "These products had a sell date of 10/3/09, 10/4/09 or 10/5/09, but will likely not bear those sell-by dates on their package labels," according to the processor. "These products were distributed to retail establishments in Maryland, Massachusetts, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Virginia for further processing."
For more information, call the USDA hotline at 1-888-674-6854, the Fairbank Farms consumer hotline at 1-877-546-0122, or go to www.fairbankfarms.com.