TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — The Topps Meat Co. on Saturday expanded its recall of frozen hamburger patties to include 21.7 million pounds of ground beef that may be contaminated with E. coli bacteria that sickened more than a dozen people in eight states.
The recall of products distributed to retail grocery stores and food service institutions in the United States was a drastic increase from the 332,000 pounds recalled Tuesday.
The recall represents all Topps products with either a "sell by date" or a "best if used by date" between Sept. 25 this year and Sept. 25, 2008. The Elizabeth-based company said this information is found on a package's back panel.
All recalled products also have a USDA establishment number of EST 9748, which is located on the back panel of the package and-or in the USDA legend, the company said.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture said Friday it had suspended the grinding of raw products at the Topps plant after inspectors found inadequate safety measures at the Topps plant. The USDA declined to detail the inadequate safety measures.
"Because the health and safety of our consumers is our top priority, we are taking these expansive measures," said Geoffrey Livermore, Topps' operations vice president.
He said Topps has augmented its procedures with microbiologists and food safety experts.
"We sincerely regret any inconvenience and concerns this may cause our consumers," Livermore said.
The USDA said three people are confirmed as getting E. Coli from Topps products, with 22 other cases under investigation. Cases were found in Connecticut, Florida, Indiana, Maine, New Jersey, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
E. coli causes intestinal illness that generally clears up within a week for adults but can be deadly for the very young, the elderly and people with compromised immune systems. Symptoms can include severe stomach cramps, bloody diarrhea and, in extreme cases, kidney failure.