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Tainted ground beef may be linked to two deaths

November 03, 2009
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According to the Associated Press, contaminated fresh ground beef caused a possible E. coli outbreak that killed two people and sent 16 others to hospitals, reported by health officials in New York. Twenty-eight people may have become ill after eating beef produced by Fairbank Farms of Ashville, N.Y., and 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 a CDC spokeswoman. 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 October 31st, said the potentially tainted meat had been sold in numerous ways, from meatloaf and meatball mix to hamburger patties. 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. 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. 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.
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