Local Stores Remove Contaminated Beef From Shelves

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Wal-Mart stores nationwide, including the Wal-Mart in Payson, are voluntarily recalling ground beef products possibly infected with E. coli and distributed by Tyson Foods Inc., according to Kory Lundberg, corporate communications spokesman for Wal-Mart Inc., based in Bentonville, Ark.

In a prepared statement, Lundberg said, "Food safety is a top priority at Wal-Mart stores and we immediately directed the stores impacted by this recall to immediately remove the affected product from their shelves. We want our customers to have total confidence in ground beef choices. That's why, in addition to directing these locations to immediately remove the recalled items, we took the extra precaution of placing a computerized block on the recalled products so they cannot pass through the cash register. We encourage any customer who believes they have the impacted product to return it to their nearest Supercenter for a full refund or replacement."

Quinn Cremer, store manager at the Payson Wal-Mart declined comment Monday, referring all questions to Wal-Mart's corporate offices.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) first issued a notice of the voluntary recall on June 3, and expanded it on June 6 and June 9 to include approximately 5.7 million pounds of both frozen and fresh ground beef products distributed by the Vernon, Calif.-based United Food Group, LLC, which distributes for Tyson Fresh Meats.

According to the Arizona Department of Health Services, Safeway and Bashas' also receive ground beef from United Food Group and may repackage it under their store brand name.

Those stores have instituted a voluntarily recall.

The first report of E. coli associated with the recall came from an Arizona patient, which prompted the recall. In total, six cases of E. coli have been reported in Arizona, three in California, two in Colorado and one each in Idaho, Utah and Wyoming.

According to Cici Williamson, technical information specialist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the strain of E. coli associated with the recall is a "particularly deadly" form known as E. coli O157:H7.

Williamson said, "The adulterant (E. coli O157:H7) associated with this recall has proven to be particularly deadly for those infected," she said.

One of the primary symptoms associated with it is bloody diarrhea, she said. Other symptoms can include bleeding (or bruising) and tiredness due to anemia. Symptoms can surface as early as a half hour after eating contaminated food, but more commonly do not show up for several days or weeks and can be accompanied by abdominal pain. The beef under recall was produced between April 6 and April 20, and was shipped to stores in Arizona, Wyoming, Utah, Idaho, Montana, Colorado, California, Nevada, Oregon, New Mexico and Washington.

Williamson said, "Beef packaged and sold under individual grocery store and supermarket labels is not included in the recall. Only those meats with a USDA label, which indicate the meat was packaged at ‘Establishment 1241' are included in the recall."

According to Cory Houghton, spokesperson for Payson Regional Medical Center, no cases of E. coli in either children or adults have been reported in Payson.

For more information visit http://www.fsis.usda.gov.

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