미국 동부지역에서 대장균에 오염된 쇠고기로 인해 2명의 사망자와 26명의 감염사례가 발생한 것으로 추정된다고 미 질병통제센터(CDC)가 2일 밝혔다.
CDC는 최근 뉴욕에서 사망한 성인 1명과 뉴햄프셔에서 숨진 1명의 사망 원인이 대장균에 오염된 `다진 쇠고기'를 섭취한 것 때문일 수 있다고 밝혔다.
문제의 다진 쇠고기는 뉴욕 애슈빌 소재 육가공업체인 페어뱅크 팜스에 의해 9월 15∼16일 제품으로 포장돼 유통기간을 9월 19∼28일로 표시해 버지니아와 메릴랜드, 펜실베이니아, 노스 캐롤라이나, 뉴욕, 뉴저지, 매사추세츠, 코네티컷, 메인 등 동부지역 일대에 유통됐다.
이 제품이 대장균에 오염된 사실이 확인되자 회사 측은 총 24만8천㎏의 쇠고기 제품을 리콜 조치했다.
그러나 해당 제품의 일부는 다른 상표로 재포장되면서 유통기한도 달리 표시돼 유통중이어서 각별한 주의가 요망된다고 CDC측은 설명했다.
미 농부부 산하 식품안전검역국은 페어뱅크 팜스가 이번 사례 이외에도 지난 2년 사이에 2건의 자발적 리콜을 실시한 적이 있다고 밝혔다.
Two deaths possible in ground beef recall
N.Y. company pulls over 546,000 pounds of meat contaminated with E. coli
msnbc.com news services
updated 4:40 p.m. ET, Mon., Nov . 2, 2009
ASHVILLE, N.Y. - Contaminated fresh ground beef caused a possible E. coli outbreak that killed two people and sent 16 others to hospitals, federal health officials said Monday.
Twenty-eight people may have become ill after eating beef produced by Fairbank Farms of Ashville, N.Y., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported. All but three of the suspected infections are in the northeastern U.S. and 18 are in New England, said CDC spokeswoman Lola Scott Russell.
Fairbank Farms recalled almost 546,000 pounds of fresh ground beef that had been distributed in September to stores from North Carolina to Maine. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s recall notice, dated Saturday, said the possibly tainted meat had been sold in numerous ways, from meatloaf and meatball mix to hamburger patties.
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One of the deaths was an adult from Albany County, N.Y., who had several underlying health conditions, according to the state Health Department. The other fatality was previously reported by New Hampshire, where health officials said a patient died of complications.
The CDC did not specify the states where people were hospitalized. Kidney failure is found in the most severe cases of E. coli. In less serious cases, the potentially deadly bacterium can cause bloody diarrhea and dehydration.
Some of the ground beef was sold at Trader Joe’s, Price Chopper, Lancaster, Wild Harvest, Shaw’s, BJ’s, Ford Brothers and Giant stores in packages that carried the number “EST. 492” on the label. Those products were packaged Sept. 15-16 and may have been labeled with a sell-by date from Sept. 19 through Sept. 28, meaning they’re no longer being sold as fresh product in supermarkets, Fairbank Farms said.
The rest of the ground beef, packaged in wholesale-sized containers under the Fairbank Farms name, was distributed to stores in Maryland, Massachusetts, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Virginia. That meat was likely repackaged for sale and would likely have differing package and sell-by dates.
The USDA was urging customers with concerns to contact the stores where they bought the meat.
Ron Allen, Fairbank’s CEO, urged consumers to check their freezers for the recalled ground beef.
Companies subject to such recalls are allowed to cook tainted meat to kill the bacteria and then use it in other products, a common practice in the food industry.
That won’t happen in this case, the company said.
“At the end of the day, this product ... is going in the garbage,” said company spokeswoman Agi Schafer.
Located in the southwestern corner of New York a few miles from the Pennsylvania line, Fairbank Farms has had two other voluntary recalls over the last two years, according to the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service.
In September 2007, the company recalled 884 pounds of ground beef products because they may have been contaminated with E. coli, the agency said. And in May 2008, it recalled 22,481 pounds of ground beef products that may have contained pieces of plastic.
Symptoms of E. coli infections usually show up three to four days after a person eats contaminated food, although in some cases it can be as long as eight days. Officials said anyone having symptoms should immediately contact a doctor.
Russell, the CDC spokeswoman, said the E. coli strain involved in the recall, 0157:H7, infects about 70,000 Americans a year and kills 52.
After dropping for a few years, annual recalls of ground beef and other beef products contaminated with E. coli have rebounded, with at least a dozen recalls through October 2009, according to USDA data.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York wants federally mandated E. coli inspections of all ground beef.
“This is a stark reminder that food is still going straight to our kitchens and grocery stores without being properly tested to ensure its safety,” Gillibrand said. “It’s spreading too many diseases and costing too many lives. ... It’s time to address the gaps in the inspection process.”
For a complete list of retailers, consumers can check the USDA Web site.