On August 8, 2008, Whole Foods Market announced a multi-state recall of fresh ground beef sold at its stores throughout the United States. The ground beef recall was issued as a result of concerns that that meats purchased at the supermarket could be contaminated by E. coli O157:H7 bacteria, which has caused at least seven people in Massachusetts and two in Pennsylvania to suffer food poisoning.
The Whole Foods recall applies to all ground beef products sold at stores between June 2, 2008 and August 6, 2008. Customers have been advised to dispose of any meat purchased between these dates, including ground beef that was placed in a freezer, as it may be contaminated with E.Coli bacteria.
The ground beef was supplied to Whole Foods Market by Coleman Natural Beef, who processed the meat at a plant owned by Nebraska Beef, which has been the subject of several meat recalls in recent weeks due to E. coli contamination.
In July 2008, Nebraska Beef issued a recall for all raw ground beef manufactured between May 16, 2008 and June 26, 2008, which involved about 5.3 million pounds of meat. The recall was issued after the meats were linked to an E.coli food poisoning outbreak which sickened at least 49 people in 7 states in the U.S. and Canada.
On August 8, 2008, Nebraska Beef issued another meat recall for 1.2 million pounds of primal cuts, sub-primal cuts and boxed beef, after the products were found to be contaminated with E. coli O157:H7, a bacterial strain linked to 31 confirmed cases of food poisoning in 12 states, the District and Canada.
The Whole Foods beef recall applies to meats that contain an establishment number “EST. 19336” located inside the USDA mark of inspection and the brand name “Coleman Natural” printed on product labels and shipping containers. The establishment number will probably not appear on direct consumer purchased ground beef, as the meats are intended for further processing by the retailer.
E. coli O157:H7 is a harmful, potentially deadly strain of bacteria that causes food poisoning. Symptoms of infection include bloody diarrhea and dehydration. In severe cases, it can also lead to hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a type of kidney failure. The very young, the elderly and the immunocompromised are at a higher risk of more serious illness from E. coli food poisoning.