Cargill Inc is recalling more than 450,000kg of ground beef that may be contaminated with E. coli bacteria, the second time in less than a month it has voluntarily recalled beef that may have been tainted.
No illnesses have been reported, Cargill Regional Beef president John Keating said. The agribusiness giant produced the beef between Oct. 8 and Oct. 11 at a plant in Wyalusing, Pennsylania.
Cargill learned the meat may be contaminated after the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) found a problem with a sample of the beef produced on Oct. 8, the company said on Saturday.
A spokeswoman for Cargill said 10 states are included in the recall -- Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia.
"We are working closely with the USDA to remove this product from the marketplace," Keating said in a statement.
Spokeswoman Lori Fligge said that the company had no further comment.
Amanda Eamich, a spokeswoman for the USDA Food and Safety Inspection Service (FSIS), said her agency would work with Cargill to track the approximately 491,873kg of beef that could be contaminated and remove it from store shelves.
On Oct. 6, Cargill voluntarily recalled more than 381,000kg of ground beef patties distributed at Sam's Club stores nationwide after four Minnesota children and four Wisconsin adults who ate the food developed E. coli illness, which is the same strain that was detected to prompt the latest recall.
A lawsuit is pending from that outbreak.
In late September, Topps recalled 9.8 million kilograms of its patties -- the second-largest US beef recall -- and then closed its business.
The USDA said later on Saturday it would increase the testing and re-inspection of poultry and meat imported from Canada.
"Effective next week, the FSIS will increase testing for Salmonella, Listeria Monocytogenes and E. coli O157:H7 and will require shipments be held until testing is complete and products are confirmed negative for these pathogens," Richard Raymond, the USDA undersecretary for food safety, said.
He said the audit of the Canadian food safety system would focus on Ranchers Beef, Ltd, which has shut down after being identified as a likely source of the E. coli outbreak that led to the Topps recall.
E. coli is harbored in the intestines of cattle. Improper butchering and processing can cause the E. coli to get onto meat.
Thorough cooking can destroy the bacteria.
E. coli O157:H7 is a potentially deadly bacterium that can cause bloody diarrhea and dehydration. Young children, seniors and people with compromised immune systems are the most susceptible.