Ohio Firm Expands Recall Of Ground Beef Products

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The Kroger Co., a Cincinnati, Ohio, retailer is expanding its June 25 recall to include an undetermined amount of ground beef products that may be contaminated with E. coli O157:H7, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service announced today.

The recall is being expanded based on the ongoing epidemiological and traceback investigation of a foodborne illness outbreak.

The recall includes ground beef products packaged in Styrofoam trays and wrapped in clear cellophane, which were available at "in-store" service counters, with various sell-by dates between May 17 and July 5, at the following Kroger retail establishments:

* Fred Meyer - Product with "Sell By" dates between "05/21/08" and "07/05/08."

* QFC - Product with "Sell By" dates between "05/21/08" and "07/05/08."

* Kroger stores (except in Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama, Knoxville, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia) - Product with "Sell By" dates between "05/21/08" and "07/03/08."

* Kroger Mid-Atlantic division - Product with "Sell By" dates between "05/19/08" and "07/03/08."

* Fry's - "Sell By" dates between "05/21/08" and "07/03/08."

* Ralph's - Product with "Sell By" dates between "05/21/08" and "07/03/08."

* Smith's - Product with "Sell By" dates between "05/21/08" and "07/03/08."

* Baker's - Product with "Sell By" dates between "05/17/08" and "07/03/08"

* King Soopers - Product with "Sell By" dates between "6/20/08" and "07/03/08."

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* City Market - Product with "Sell By" dates between "06/20/08" and "07/03/08."

* Hilander - Product with "Sell By" dates between "05/21/08" and "07/03/08."

* Owen's - Product with "Sell By" dates between "05/21/08" and "07/03/08."

* Pay Less - Product with "Sell By" dates between "05/21/08" and "07/03/08."

* Scott's - Product with "Sell By" dates between "05/21/08" and "07/03/08."

* Dillons - Product with "Sell By" dates between "05/17/08" and "07/03/08."

* Gerbes - Product with "Sell By" dates between "05/17/08" and "07/03/08."

The following product is also subject to recall:

* 16-ounce packages of "Private Selection Natural Ground Beef," with "Sell By" dates between "07/11/08" and "07/21/08." The product was distributed to all Kroger retail establishments, Dillons, Fred Meyer, Baker's, Smith's and Fry's, including Kroger Mid-Atlantic and stores in Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama, and Knoxville, Tennessee.

Consumers are urged to check their refrigerators and freezers and discard or return the ground beef products for a refund.

FSIS advises all consumers to safely prepare their raw meat products, and only consume ground beef or ground beef patties that have been cooked temperature of 160? F. The only way to be sure ground beef is cooked to a high enough temperature to kill harmful bacteria is to use a thermometer to measure the internal temperature.

The June 25 recall was initiated after epidemiological investigations and a case control study conducted by the Michigan and Ohio Departments of Agriculture and Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention determined that there is an association between the ground beef products and foodborne illnesses. Currently, there are 41 illnesses reported in Michigan (21) and Ohio (20). The illnesses were linked through the epidemiological investigation by their pulsed field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) pattern, or DNA fingerprint, found in PulseNet, a database maintained by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Anyone with signs or symptoms of foodborne illness should consult a medical professional.

E. coli O157:H7 is a potentially deadly bacterium that can cause bloody diarrhea, dehydration, and in the most severe cases, kidney failure. The very young, seniors and persons with weak immune systems are the most susceptible to foodborne illness.

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