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21.7 million pounds of beef recalled

Topps Meat Co. expanded a recall of ground beef from about 300,000 pounds to 21.7 million pounds on Saturday due to E. coli concerns, one of the largest meat recalls in U.S. history.
The New Jersey company said in a statement that the hamburger patties may be contaminated with E. coli 0157:H7, a bacterium that can cause severe diarrhea, cramps and, in extreme cases, kidney failure. It can be fatal for the very young, the elderly and people with compromised immune systems.
According to CNN, a statement from the U.S. Department of Agriculture said 25 illnesses are under investigation in Connecticut, Florida, Indiana, Maine, New Jersey, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania. The Associated Press said three cases of E. Coli from Topps products are confirmed.
The company had announced a recall of about 331,000 pounds of hamburger meat on Tuesday, according to the USDA.
The products, all ground beef patties and hamburgers sold under various brand names, were distributed mainly in the northeastern United States, but went to retailers in many other areas of the country as well, said Topps spokeswoman Michelle Williams.
The recall represents all Topps products with either a ‚Äúsell by date‚Ä? or a ‚Äúbest if used by date‚Ä? between Sept. 25 this year and Sept. 25, 2008, with all recalled products also having a USDA establishment number of EST 9748.
CNN reports that production in the ground beef area of the company’s plant has been shut down while the company works with the USDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in conducting an internal investigation, according to Williams. The Associated Press adds,
‚ÄúThe U.S. Department of Agriculture said Friday it had suspended the grinding of raw products at the Topps plant after inspectors found inadequate safety measures at the Topps plant,‚Ä? which the USDA declined to detail the inadequate safety measures.
Two other companies have been involved in larger meat recalls. Pilgrim’s Pride recalled more than 27 million pounds of poultry in 2002, and in 1997, Hudson Foods recalled 25 million pounds of ground beef.

CNN:
http://www.cnn.com/2007/US/09/29/meat.recall/index.html?iref=mpstoryview

The Associated Press:
http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/us/AP-Meat-Recall.html