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Wegmans recalls fresh ground beef May be contaminated with E. coli bacteria

Tainted ground beef may have found its way to Wegmans stores in Western New York last month, the company warned Saturday.

The Rochester-headquartered retailer said it has recalled fresh ground beef patties with use-by or freeze-by dates from Oct. 10 through Oct. 29 from all 71 supermarkets, including its dozen Buffalo-area locations. Cargill Inc. announced Saturday that more than 1 million pounds it distributed to several food retailers may have been contaminated with E. coli bacteria.

No illnesses associated with the recall have been reported, and no other Western new York food retailer received the suspect Cargill beef.

Wegmans products with the dates covered by the recall include:

*80 percent, 90 percent and 95 percent lean fresh ground beef in all package sizes as well as portions sold from the service meat case.

*80 percent and 90 percent lean fresh ground beef patties in four-patty packs only.

*All ground beef, pork and veal blends, including the Century Farm label.

*85 percent and 91 percent "food you feel good about" fresh ground beef sold in the service meat case.

*Ready-to-cook items made with fresh ground beef, both packaged or from the service meat case, including hamburgers made with bacon and cheddar, blue cheese, roasted pepper, feta or "seasoned"; regular or bacon cheddar meatloaf; meatballs; and stuffed peppers.

U.S. Department of Agriculture inspectors discovered the problem during a routine sampling of ground beef produced Oct. 8 at Cargill's Wyalusing, Pa., plant.

Retailers covered by the recall besides Wegmans include the Giant, Shop Rite, Stop & Shop and Weis chains. States affected in addition to New York are Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia.

Wegmans customers who bought but have not eaten the affected products should return them for a full refund, the company said. People who ate the product and feel they are experiencing symptoms should contact a physician.

Symptoms, which generally occur three to eight days after consumption, typically include diarrhea, fever, severe abdominal pain and -- in severe cases -- bloody diarrhea. Children, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems are at greatest risk.

It was the second ground beef recall by Minnesota-based Cargill in less than a month. On Oct. 6, more than 840,000 pounds of ground beef patties distributed at Sam's Club stores nationwide were recalled after four Minnesota children and four Wisconsin adults who ate the food developed E. coli illnesses. A lawsuit is pending from that outbreak.

In late September, Topps Meat Co. of Elizabeth, N.J., recalled 21.7 million pounds of its patties -- the second-largest U.S. beef recall. The company's owner, Strategic Investments & Holdings of Buffalo, subsequently closed the business.

e-mail: tbuckham@buffnews.com

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