Recall issued for ground beef sold at Safeway, Target, Sam's Club, death reported

Fort Morgan, Colorado-based Cargill Meat Solutions has recalled about 132,606 pounds of ground beef products due to a possible Escherichia coli O26 contamination.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service announced the recall Sept. 19.

The products were produced and packaged June 21, the USDA said. The recall is a class I, meaning the health hazard has a reasonable probability causing serious health issues or death if used.

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"The Cargill Meat Solutions' ground beef products were identified following further investigation related to Recall 072-2018, conducted on Aug. 30, 2018, where ground beef products were recalled in connection with the E. coli O26 outbreak," the USDA said in a news release. "FSIS' traceback information indicated that case-patients consumed ground beef products purchased at various retail stores that were supplied by Cargill Meat Solutions."

That previous recall involved regional grocery chain Publix, which recalled more than two dozen ground beef products in August due to possible E. coli contamination. Before then, Cargill recalled 25,000 pounds of ground beef products Aug. 23.

E. coli contamination can develop into vomiting and diarrhea. In rare cases, it can lead to a more severe infection and death. The USDA said an investigation related to the company recalls found that there were 17 illnesses and one death from illnesses that were reported from July 5 to 25.

The latest recalled ground beef products were sold at Meijer, Safeway and Sam's Club locations nationwide and Target stores in California, Florida and Iowa.

Because the list may not include all affected stores, the USDA suggests customers use product-specific information at its website to ensure they do not have the recalled product. Items include 3-pound, 10-pound and 20-pound packages of ground beef branded under Our Certified, Excel, Sterling Silver, Certified and Fire River Farms with a July 11 use or freeze by date.

A spokeswoman for Safeway and Albertson's said Tuesday that while their stores were part of the recall, the stores chose to include more dates than required by the USDA. Local buyers are now buying form other beef sources so it's unlikely stores in Western Washington are part of the recent recall, spokeswoman Sara Osborne said.

The full list of recalled items, including labels, is at the USDA website.

"We were distressed to learn a fatality may be related to an E.coli contamination of one of our products. Our hearts go out to the families and individuals affected by this issue," Cargill said in a statement after the Sept. 19 recall.

“We want to make sure that consumers understand how to identify and safely dispose of any questionable ground beef. All affected product was pulled from supermarket shelves, but consumers may still have it in their freezers, so it is important that they take action to prevent possible illness.”

“We are working in lock step with the USDA to notify consumers. ... If there is any doubt, consumers should throw it out.

“At Cargill, food safety is something we work hard at every day. Internal and external food safety teams are assessing the processes at Fort Morgan and our other facilities to ensure we continue to deliver safe food to our customers and consumers.”

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