Scallions pulled in Taco Bell E. coli outbreak were grown in California |

Scallions pulled in Taco Bell E. coli outbreak were grown in California

FRESNO (AP) – The scallions suspected in the E. coli outbreak linked to Taco Bell came from a Southern California grower, an official with the company that washed, chopped and packed them for the restaurant chain said Thursday. Ready Pac Produce, the sole supplier of green onions to Taco Bell restaurants in the New York, New Jersey and Philadelphia areas, where most people got sick, stopped scallion production at its Florence, N.J., plant that was inspected by federal food officials. “As soon as we heard news from Taco Bell about the positive yet inconclusive results, we took immediate action to do everything we could,” said Steve Dickstein, marketing vice president for Irwindale-based Ready Pac, one of the nation’s leading produce packers. Taco Bell removed scallions from all 5,800 of its restaurants Wednesday after preliminary tests linked them to the E. coli bacteria. State and federal investigators also are scrutinizing other non-meat ingredients on the Taco Bell menu, such as cheese, lettuce, yellow onions and tomatoes, as they try to pin down the source. At least 58 confirmed cases of E. coli sickness have been reported in New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania and three other states, with the vast majority linked to Taco Bell, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Thursday. Dickstein said its scallions came from Boskovich Farms Inc. of Oxnard and were grown in California, “although the investigation continues as to whether they were contaminated.” A spokeswoman for Boskovich Farms, which sells green onions to food processors for Taco Bell in numerous states, said the company was cooperating with the fast-food retailer as it attempts to track the source of the bacterium. The farm, which grows green onions and other vegetables on its 1,700 acres about 45 miles northwest of Los Angeles, had not been contacted by health officials, spokeswoman Lindsay Martinez said Thursday. “All of the onions that we do supply to Taco Bell come from Oxnard,” said Martinez. “We support Taco Bell in their pro-active decision based on the information they had.” Testing by an independent lab found three samples of green onions that appeared to have a harsh strain of the bacteria. But with only preliminary results, California health officials said there was no link to California produce or processors and they were not involved in the investigation. Federal authorities said Thursday there were no plans to issue warnings about scallions. “All we have been given is presumptive evidence only from a contract lab whose results we can’t confirm,” FDA spokesman Michael L. Herndon said. This is the second E. coli scare to hit Ready Pac in the past four months. In September, spinach with the Ready Pac label was among dozens of brands pulled from the shelves when federal authorities traced a nationwide E. coli outbreak to a San Juan Bautista processing plant that bags its spinach and dozens of other brands. Preliminary tests showed the E. coli strain in the green onions was different from that in the spinach, California health officials said. Three people died and more than 200 fell ill from eating fresh spinach traced to California’s Salinas Valley. In the latest outbreak, at least five people remained hospitalized, including an 11-year-old boy in stable condition with kidney damage. Federal officials said there are possible cases in Delaware, South Carolina and Utah, as well. In Delaware, where all 14 Taco Bell restaurants closed voluntarily, public health officials were investigating two cases that may be linked to the outbreak. Green onions have been the source of eight food-borne illness outbreaks since 1994, but none of those cases involved E. coli, said Douglas Powell, food safety professor at Kansas State University. Tainted green onions from Mexico were blamed for a 2003 outbreak of hepatitis A in western Pennsylvania that was also traced to a Mexican restaurant. Four people died and more than 600 people were sickened after eating the green onions at a Chi-Chi’s. If scallions are contaminated at any stage of the growing process, their structure theoretically would make it difficult to remove the bacteria solely by washing because the onions can carry pathogens inside their multiple layers, said Powell. Ready Pac, which won a supplier award from Taco Bell in 2001, washes and sanitizes its onions twice, Dickstein said. The company has not halted production of the lettuce, tomatoes, regular onions and cilantro it supplies to Taco Bell. California is the nation’s largest supplier of green onions, but in winter the vegetable is typically imported from Mexico. E. coli, short for Escherichia coli, is a common and ordinarily harmless intestinal bacteria. According to the CDC, the strain of E. coli that caused the infections is often found in the intestines of healthy goats, sheep and cattle. Most E. coli infections are associated with undercooked meat. The bacteria also can be found on sprouts or leafy vegetables such as spinach. It can be spread if people don’t take steps such as thoroughly washing their hands. The first lawsuit in the Taco Bell case was filed Wednesday. The family of an 11-year-old boy claimed that negligence by the restaurant chain led to an E. coli outbreak that sickened the boy. The boy, Tyler Vormittag, became ill after eating three tacos with cheese and lettuce at a Taco Bell in Riverhead, on Long Island, on Nov. 24, according to the lawsuit filed late Wednesday. He was hospitalized Nov. 28 and released the next day, his attorney said. “When a restaurant serves food, it is deemed to be fit for human consumption and that it does not contain any deleterious or harmful substances,” said his attorney, Andrew Siben. “The Taco Bell restaurant clearly breached that duty.” A Taco Bell spokeswoman said the company had no immediate comment on the lawsuit. The Irvine, Calif.-based chain is a subsidiary of Yum Brands Inc. Associated Press writers Randolph E. Schmid in Washington, Beth DeFalco in South Plainfield, N.J., Frank Eltman in Garden City, N.Y. and Lisa Leff in San Francisco contributed to this report. On the Net:

Millions of pounds of beef recalled

LOS ANGELES (AP) – For the third time in a week, a meat supplier has expanded a ground beef recall to include about 5.7 million pounds of fresh and frozen meat because they may be contaminated with E. coli. David Goldman, acting administrator of the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service, announced on Saturday that the recall would be expanded to include products with sell-by dates from April 6-April 20. The beef was distributed by California-based United Food Group LLC. Goldman said that none of the latest batch of suspect beef is in stores now because the product would be well past its expiration date, but consumers may still have some of the meat at home. “It is important for consumers to look in their freezers,” Goldman said. The meat has been blamed for an E. coli outbreak in the Western states that resulted in 14 illnesses, spanning April 25 through May 18. All the patients have recovered. On Wednesday, United Food Group expanded an initial recall of 75,000 pounds of ground beef, adding another 370,000 pounds based on “unspecified concerns” raised by the California State Department of Health Services. This meat had sell-by dates from April 29-May 6. The recalled products were shipped to stores in Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming. They were sold under the brand names Moran’s All Natural, Miller Meat Company, Stater Bros., Trader Joe’s Butcher Shop, Inter-American Products, Inc., and Basha’s. The affected grocery stores included Albertson’s, Basha’s, Grocery Outlet, Fry’s, “R” Ranch Markets, Save-A-Lot, Save-Mart, Scolari’s Wholesale Markets, Smart and Final, Smith’s, Stater Bros., and Superior Warehouse. E. coli is a potentially deadly bacterium that can cause stomach cramps and diarrhea that may turn bloody. E. coli can sometimes lead to complications including kidney failure. Customers with questions about the recall can call United Food Group’s hot line at (800) 325-4164. Those with recalled products should either throw the product away or return it to the point of purchase for a refund.

E. coli outbreak in spinach is the latest traced to California produce

WASHINGTON (AP) – Federal health officials told California farmers to improve produce safety in a pointed warning letter last November, nearly a year before the multistate E. coli outbreak linked to spinach. In fact, the current food-poisoning episode is the 20th since 1995 linked to spinach or lettuce, the Food and Drug Administration said. Though state and federal officials have traced the current outbreak to a California company’s fresh spinach, they haven’t pinpointed the source of the bacteria that have killed one person and sickened at least 113 others. A second death was being investigated in the outbreak, which involves 21 states. The FDA is still warning consumers not to eat fresh spinach. The regulatory agency does not consider the contamination deliberate. “There is always a question in the back of our mind whether it may have been a deliberate attack on the food supply. Currently, there is nothing in the epidemiology to consider this deliberate,” said Dr. David Acheson of the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. That leaves a broad range of other possible sources, including contaminated irrigation water that’s been a problem in California’s Salinas Valley. The area on California’s central coast produces much of the U.S. spinach crop. There have been 19 other food-poisoning outbreaks since 1995 linked to lettuce and spinach, according to the FDA. At least eight were traced to the Salinas Valley. The outbreaks involved more than 400 cases of sickness and two deaths. In 2004 and again in 2005, the FDA’s top food safety official warned California farmers they needed to do more to increase the safety of their fresh leafy greens. “In light of continuing outbreaks, it is clear that more needs to be done,” the FDA’s Robert Brackett wrote in a Nov. 4, 2005, letter. Suggested actions included discarding produce that comes into contact with floodwaters. Rivers and creeks in the Salinas watershed are known to be periodically contaminated with E. coli, Brackett said. Various produce growers’ associations worked with the FDA to publish new guidelines for the safe handling of spinach and other leafy greens in April after the agency reiterated its concerns. But the spokesman for a group representing 3,000 growers and shippers in California and Arizona said the new guidelines were not directly in response to any particular incident. “The basic standard for the industry is zero tolerance,” said Tim Chelling, of Western Growers. A food safety analyst said the Salinas Valley was developing a reputation for food safety problems connected to leafy greens. “Even the biggest companies have become vulnerable,” said Trevor Suslow, a microbial food safety researcher at the University of California, Davis. Meanwhile, the FBI is monitoring the situation, said spokesman Rich Kolko. He called it a routine and precautionary measure, not an indication of suspicious activity. FDA spokeswoman Susan Bro dismissed a claim by Natural Selection Foods LLC, the company linked to the outbreak, that its organic spinach products had been cleared of suspicion. The company packages both organic and conventionally grown spinach in separate areas at its San Juan Bautista, Calif., plant. “The FDA has not cleared any products from the list and continues to recommend consumers avoid eating fresh spinach products,” Bro said. Natural Selection has recalled 34 brands of fresh spinach products, distributed throughout the United States as well as to Canada, Mexico and Taiwan. The brands include the company’s own as well as private labels sold by other companies. Salinas-based River Ranch Fresh Foods recalled spring salad mixes containing spinach purchased from Natural Selection. The FDA and the California Department of Health Services were reviewing irrigation methods, harvest conditions and other practices at farms possibly involved. Test results on samples from produce packing plants are due in a week or more, Acheson said. FDA inspectors were to visit fields in California later Monday. “We’re going to put every bit of energy we have into finding this out,” Acheson told reporters by telephone. Earlier during the call, he declined to say whether FDA budget cuts have hindered the investigation. Rep. Sam Farr, a Democrat whose district includes the Salinas Valley, said produce growers were keen to find the source of the contamination. “Obviously, it hasn’t been perfected to get all the bugs out. But you don’t have people fighting back out here. They’re just saying, ‘Help us, we want to get to the bottom of this,”‘ Farr said. The spinach could have been contaminated in the field or during processing. About 74 percent of the fresh-market spinach grown in the U.S. comes from California, according to the California Farm Bureau Federation. E. coli cases linked to the tainted spinach have been reported in 21 states, with Wisconsin reporting the most cases, including the death of a 77-year-old woman. A death in Ohio was being investigated. On Monday, Illinois and Nebraska joined the list of states with confirmed cases. Those states are: California, Connecticut, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Utah, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Women accounted for 75 percent of the cases, since they probably eat more spinach, Acheson said. Sixty people have been hospitalized in the outbreak. – Associated Press writer Marcus Wohlsen contributed to this story from San Francisco. On the Net: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Natural Selection Farms:

Boil order lifted for water co.

A boil order for Lukins Brothers Water Co. customers in South Lake Tahoe was lifted on Wednesday evening. "We are pleased to report that the problem has been corrected and that it is no longer necessary to drink boiled or bottled water," the company said in a notice to its 963 customers. "We apologize for any inconvenience and thank you for your patience." The boil order was put in place by California Department of Public Health on Thursday, Nov. 14 after routine sampling of the company's water system tested positive for total coliform bacteria. They were the first positive tests for total coliform in the company's 66-year history, company spokeswoman Jennifer Lukins said. All of the water system samples tested negative for E. coli and all of the company's water sources tested negative for both total coliform and E. coli. Lukins Brothers Water Company has elected to continue chlorinating its water system for the foreseeable future as a preventative measure.

The scoop on what may be contaminating Tahoe

INCLINE VILLAGE – A village that’s gone to the dogs over canine issues dating back a decade may have one more to bark about … and, yes, this “to-do” is over dog doo. A small group of concerned North Shore residents – including those who frequent the Village Green and Ski Beach, both open for dog traffic during the winter months – are concerned that scofflaw pet owners are remiss in picking up canine remains. Take a walk around some of Incline Village’s more populous streets where the doggies roam and, indeed, as the snow melts there are piles of puppy guano greeting residents at roadside. Beyond the skirmish of courtesy and cleanliness, the dog-doo debate does in fact have teeth as it was only a matter of time before some started questioning how this mess may effect the clarity and health of the lake. The answer, it can and may be: “I consistently get high fecal counts around the lake,” said Rita Whitney, threshold monitoring program manager for Tahoe Regional Planning Agency. “I try to rule out the chance of a septic (spill) … so that means it’s people recreating, or dogs.” High fecal coliform counts are well-publicized in other regions, and, some officials say that Tahoe may be soon “tuning into” fecal coliform and e-coli as a problem. “The concern is a valid one at (Tahoe),” said Jacques Landy, the Environmental Protection Agency’s Lake Tahoe Basin coordinator. “It is a concern of the EPA’s.” Landy said currently there are only occasional exceedences of coliform bacteria in the lake’s water, and determining the exact source is impossible without DNA testing, EPA and TRPA officials noted. That doesn’t mean the area’s water sources can’t be better monitored. “All the coliform tells us is it’s mammal,” Whitney said. “We’re going to increase (monitoring) near drinking water (sources) …This is all subject to comments, Tahoe hasn’t done a lot of coliform testing in the past.” Today, the TRPA does not have a coliform standard. Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board and Nevada Department of Environmental Protection do. The TRPA is obligated to have fecal coliform standards that follow those of the aforementioned agencies. But the time to go beyond this may be now, some environmentalists noted. TRPA officials said increased monitoring may be on the horizon. “We have done fecal (coliform surveys) at some of the beaches, some results are disturbing because of drinking water and human health,” TRPA’s Whitney said. “We’re beefing up coliform (testing) and the EPA is recommending to go e. coli (testing) which is a more sensitive indicator. “We’re going to do both, especially at drinking water intakes and at popular beaches.” Some who have come out against proposed construction of more piers and dropping new buoys in the TRPA’s new Shorezone plan could use reported use days of high coliform levels as justification for building fewer structures one environmentalist said. And whether it is the canine companions, humans or even geese at the heart of the problem is still highly subjective. “I have suspicions about where (high coliform levels) are coming from,” TRPA’s Whitney said. “It’s still a human health issue, with public access, new piers and buoys – there is a potential for increase.” In other watersheds with high coliform counts such as Tomales Bay (120 miles southwest of Lake Tahoe), measures have been taken to protect the health of the water. “An important part of investigations in the TMDL listed watersheds of the Bay Area will be to determine what combination of sources and processes are draft for review causing impairment,” a recent EPA report stated. “This information will increase the likelihood of implementation of sound management solutions.” The Clean Water Act requires states to adopt water quality standards to protect the nation’s waters, an EPA report stated. Many of our water resources cannot currently meet their designated uses because of pollution problems from a combination of point sources, such as sewage treatment plant discharges, industrial dischargers, etc., the report continued. “We will continue to monitor Tahoe closely,” said the EPA’s Landy. “It’s an issue that does merit some attention.”

E. coli alert: Health department warns consumers not to eat certain brands of ground beef

California consumers are being warned not to eat certain brands of ground beef products because they could be contaminated with E. coli and may cause serious health risks, the state’s health department announced today. The products have been recalled by the manufacturer, Topps Meat Co.   WalMart stores throughout California may have received the recalled ground beef product with the brand name “Topps” and “Sam’s Choice.” Albertsons stores in Southern California may have received the recalled ground beef product with the brand name “Topps.”  CPDH is working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to identify additional California distribution.   The manufacturer, Topps Meat Co., based in Elizabeth, N.J., has voluntarily recalled certain frozen ground beef products sold under the brand names Butchers Best, Kohler Foods, Mike’s Seasoned Beef Patties, Pathmark, Rastelli’s Fine Foods, Roma-Topps, Sam’s Choice, Sand Castle, Shop Rite, Topps and Westside.  The recalled packages bear the establishment number “Est. 9748” inside the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) mark of inspection as well as a “sell-by date” or “best if used by date” between “SEP 25 07” and “SEP 25 08.”  The ground beef is packaged in 1.5- pound, 2-pound, 3-pound, 5-pound, 6-pound and 10-pound boxes.   Consumers should check in their home refrigerators and freezers for the recalled product.  Consumers should either throw the product away or return it to the point of purchase.   To date, no illnesses associated with this product have been reported in California. There are currently 25 illnesses under investigation in Connecticut, Florida, Indiana, Maine, New Jersey, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania.   E. coli infection often causes abdominal cramps and diarrhea, sometimes bloody. Those most at risk for serious complications of this foodborne illness include young children, the elderly and those with compromised immune systems. Consumers with any of these symptoms should call their physician.   Consumers with questions about the recalled products can contact Topps Meat Co. Consumer Hotline at (888) 734-0451.  

Spinach pulled from shelves after E. coli outbreak

South Shore grocers and restaurants pulled spinach from their shelves after federal authorities warned over the weekend of an E. coli outbreak tied to tainted spinach from California’s Central Valley. The greens, which appear to grown by the world’s largest producer of organic produce, have sickened 102 people and killed a 77-year-old woman, according to health officials. Federal agents from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention intervened this weekend to help investigate the bacteria, which has not been isolated in products sold by the holding company based in San Juan Bautista, Calif., also known for Earthbound Farm and other brands. Other brands may be implicated. Raley’s corporate office in Sacramento sent an e-mail this weekend to its produce managers, asking them to pull all brands of fresh spinach. Its two stores in South Lake Tahoe at the Village Center and the “Y” carry the Dole and Garden Fresh brands. Assistant Manager Tom McGowan said it’s a shame, but “you can’t be too careful.” Safeway’s produce manager Mark Burton said he also took bags of spinach salad off the shelves and pulled whole-leaf spinach from the bins. Burton recalled the notion among some of the bag salads not selling when they first came out. Now, they’re extremely popular. One of the reasons why consumers are so receptive to ready-to-serve bags is because the ingredients are just thrown into a salad bowl. “(But) I tell everybody to wash all produce,” said Burton, who uses a strainer and paper towel to treat his lettuce and spinach. Beyond Grass Roots Natural Foods – which carried the brand currently in question, restaurants from Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course to Pasaretti’s have also followed suit and eliminated the produce from its kitchens. CDC officials said Sunday they’ve started an Atlanta-based emergency operations center to help state health agencies on an as-needed basis with E. coli testing. Epidemiologists are helping test spinach samples and stool samples of those who have been infected, center spokeswoman Lola Russell said. The center is helping when state health agencies can’t perform the tests or when a second opinion is needed, Russell said. She said the center will remain open until the crisis abates. E. coli cases linked to tainted spinach have been reported in 19 states, with a majority of cases in Wisconsin. Only one illness has been reported in California. The Food and Drug Administration continued to warn consumers this weekend to avoid spinach. The spinach, grown in California’s Central Valley, could have been contaminated in the field or during processing. About 74 percent of the fresh market spinach grown in the U.S. comes from California, according to the California Farm Bureau Federation. There have been previous bacterial contamination outbreaks linked to spinach and lettuce grown in the state. Natural Selection Foods LLC recalled its packaged spinach throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico as a precaution after federal health officials said some of those hospitalized reported eating brands of prepackaged spinach distributed by the company. Natural Selection officials could not be immediately reached on Sunday. The company was founded in 1984 by Drew and Myra Goodman, who left Manhattan to farm a small raspberry farm in California’s Carmel Valley. Within two years, Earthbound Farm began shipping pre-washed, packaged salad fixings, and the company’s “spring mix” became a mainstay of restaurants and supermarkets. -Tribune staff writer Susan Wood contributed to The Associated Press report.

Warrants served in E. coli spinach investigation

SAN JUAN BAUTISTA (AP) – Federal agents raided two Salinas Valley produce companies Wednesday for evidence of a crime in the nationwide E. coli outbreak that killed one person and sickened at least 192 others. Agents from the FBI and the Food and Drug Administration’s criminal investigations office executed search warrants at the Natural Selection Foods LLC plant in San Juan Bautista and Growers Express in Salinas to see if they violated food safety and environmental laws. “We are investigating allegations that certain spinach growers and distributors may not have taken all necessary or appropriate steps to ensure that their spinach was safe before they were placed into interstate commerce,” U.S. Attorney Kevin Ryan said. The searches were the first indication a crime may have been committed in the outbreak that killed a Wisconsin woman, sickened people in 26 states and Canada, and led to a two-week FDA warning not to eat fresh spinach. “We’re definitely looking into the possibility that there was a criminal violation of federal environmental laws,” which would be a felony, said FBI spokesman Joe Schadler. An executive for Natural Selection, which the FDA previously identified as having produced bags of spinach implicated in the outbreak, stood by his plant’s cleanliness and pointed the finger at growers. “We continue to believe that the source of the contamination was in the fields from which we buy our spinach,” Chief Executive Officer Charles Sweat said in a statement. Federal and state officials previously said they had narrowed their search for the E. coli’s source to nine farms in Monterey, San Benito and Santa Clara counties that grew spinach for Natural Selection Foods. Federal officials do not think anyone at the plants deliberately contaminated spinach with the virulent bacteria, and the searches do not mean there is an ongoing or new threat to public health. “There is no indication there was any tampering of willful contamination or anything like that,” Schadler said. The federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act provides criminal penalties for companies involved in the production or sale of “adulterated foods,” said Andy Weisbecker, a Seattle lawyer whose firm is representing dozens of people who got sick eating spinach in the last two months. To be convicted under the act, companies do not need to have known their products were contaminated, merely negligent in their duties to prevent tainted foods from entering the market, Weisbecker said. “If someone out there is pumping out hundreds of pounds of pork with trichinosis in it, you don’t have to know you are doing that to be found potentially criminally negligent,” he said. Since E. coli is found in animal and human feces, state and federal inspectors trying to pinpoint the source of contamination have focused on irrigation water, fertilization methods, worker hygiene and the proximity of fields to livestock. The FBI would not say what agents sought or seized at the two plants, but said they gathered enough preliminary evidence to get a judge to sign the warrants. Sweat said agents requested paperwork, including documents already provided to the FDA and the California Department of Health Services. After agents executed the warrant just after 9 a.m., they went in and out of the building carrying attache cases. An FDA agent with a holstered gun declined to comment. Natural Selection, which packages spinach sold under 34 brand names and supplies spinach to other food processors, was implicated in the E. coli outbreak after 11 bags of Dole brand spinach tested positive for the same bacteria strain found in people who fell ill after eating the leafy greens. Growers Express grows and packs produce, including Farm Day packaged spinach. Until Wednesday, the company had not been named in the investigation of how the tainted spinach ended up in bags and on store shelves. A representative for Growers Express did not return calls seeking comment. Workers there would not answer questions about the FBI agents who remained on-site all day. The recent spinach scare was at least the ninth food-borne illness outbreak traced to produce from the Salinas Valley. Both the FDA and California health and agriculture officials have ordered fruit and vegetable growers to develop a plan to minimize the risk of another outbreak in all leafy greens, including lettuce. Dr. David Acheson, chief medical officer of the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, declined to comment on Wednesday’s raids, saying the investigation was ongoing. – Associated Press Writer Lisa Leff in San Francisco contributed to this report.

Health department issues new warning over beef patties, pot pies

Consumers in California should not to eat American Chef’s Selection Angus Beef Patties purchased at Sam’s Club stores in the state because the products could be contaminated with E. coli and may cause serious illness.      Sam’s Club stores throughout California received the product, said Dr. Mark Horton, director of the California Department of Public Health warned today. The manufacturer, Cargill Meat Solutions, has voluntarily recalled the product.  The product is a 6-pound box of “American Chef’s Selection Angus Beef Patties 18-1/3 Pound Patties.” Each package bears the establishment number “Est. 924A” inside the USDA mark of inspection. It also bears a case code of “7703100” and various package codes of Best If Used By dates of “02/05/08,” “02/06/08,” “02/12/08,” and “02/13/08.” Consumers should check their home refrigerators and freezers for the recalled product.  Consumers should either throw the product away or return it to the point of purchase. To date, no illnesses associated with this product have been reported in California. E. coli infection often causes abdominal cramps and diarrhea, sometimes bloody. Consumers with any of these symptoms should call their physician. Those most at risk for serious complications of this foodborne illness include young children, the elderly and those with compromised immune systems. Consumers with questions about the recalled products can contact Cargill Meat Solutions at (866) 567-7899. Also today, the state health department issued a warning over contaminated pot pies. Consumers should not eat certain frozen Banquet or generic store brand chicken and turkey pot pies because they may be contaminated with salmonella, Horton announced today. The affected pot pies have the number “P-9” on the side of the package as part of a code above the use-by date.  The packages also have the number 5009 inside a small circle on the front of the package.    CDPH is investigating five cases of salmonella in California possibly associated with consumption of this product in Orange, Santa Clara and San Mateo counties.  Continued surveillance and testing is under way to identify any additional cases that may be associated with this product in California. The pot pies may be linked to 139 cases of salmonella in 30 states.   The pot pies are produced by ConAgra Foods, which has voluntarily stopped producing the pot pies.  Consumers should discard the pot pies prior to returning the packaging to their retail store for a refund.  Consumers can also obtain a refund by sending the side panel of the package that contains the code “P-9” to ConAgra Foods, Dept. BQPP, P.O. Box 3768, Omaha, NE 68103-0768. Most individuals with Salmonella develop diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps one to three days after infection. The illness usually lasts four to seven days, and most individuals recover without treatment. However, in some individuals, the diarrhea may be so severe that hospitalization is required. The elderly, infants and those with impaired immune systems are more likely to have a severe illness. Individuals who think they may have become ill from eating these products should contact their health care provider for evaluation.   Consumers with questions can contact ConAgra Foods at 1-866-484-8671.

Beef recall at western Albertsons stores; E. coli risk is feared

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (AP) – Supervalu Inc. said on Monday it was recalling some ground beef sold in its Albertsons and Save-A-Lot stores because it is believed to be contaminated with E. coli. Most of the products were sold under the Moran’s label at Albertsons stores in California, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming and Save-A-Lot stores in Arizona, California, and Nevada. The recalled products had sell-by dates from April 20 through May 7. It included Moran’s brand meat sold in 1- to 5-pound varieties under UPC numbers 34779 60501, 34779 60000, 34779 96000, 34779 91000, 34779 60010, 34779 96194, 34779 21117. Also recalled was Albertsons 90/10 Sirloin fresh hamburger patties. Customers can return recalled products to the store for a full refund or exchange. Customers with questions about the recall can call United Food Group’s hotline at (800) 325-4164. The Supervalu recall stems from a recall announced Sunday by meat supplier United Food Group LLC of 75,000 pounds of contaminated ground beef. In addition to the Supervalu stores, the United Food recall included meat sold at Grocery Outlet, Fry’s, Save-Mart, Smart and Final, Smith’s, and Stater Bros. stores. Symptoms of E. coli include stomach cramps that may be severe and diarrhea that may turn bloody within one to three days. E. coli sometimes can lead to complications including kidney failure.