21.7 million pounds of meat recalled - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

21.7 million pounds of meat recalled

TRENTON, New Jersey (AP) -- The Topps Meat Co. on Saturday expanded its recall of frozen hamburger patties that may be contaminated with the E. coli bacteria and may have sickened more than a dozen people in eight states.

Topps said it was recalling 21.7 million pounds of ground beef products distributed to retail grocery stores and food service institutions throughout the United States, up from the 332,000 pounds it recalled on Tuesday.

The recall represents all Topps products with either a "sell by date" or a "best if used by date" between September 25 this year and September 25, 2008. The Elizabeth, New Jersey-based company said this information is found on a package's back panel.

All recalled products also have a USDA establishment number of EST 9748, which is located on the back panel of the package and-or in the USDA legend, the company said.

The company said consumers should destroy any recalled product and wash hands thoroughly after handling it.

Topps set up a toll-free recall help line at (888) 734-0451.

The 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 there. The USDA declined to detail the inadequate safety measures.

"Because the health and safety of our consumers is our top priority, we are taking these expansive measures," said Geoffrey Livermore, Topps' operations vice president.

"We sincerely regret any inconvenience and concerns this may cause our consumers," Livermore said.

He said Topps has augmented its procedures with microbiologists and food safety experts.

The USDA said three people are confirmed to have contracted E. coli from Topps products, with 22 other cases are under investigation. Cases were found in Connecticut, Florida, Indiana, Maine, New Jersey, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

E. coli causes intestinal illness that generally clears up within a week for adults but can be deadly for the very young, the elderly and people with compromised immune systems. Symptoms can include severe stomach cramps, bloody diarrhea and, in extreme cases, kidney failure.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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