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February 17, 1999

Media Communications Office
(202) 720-3897; FAX: (202) 690-0460

Contact: Liz Lapping
Linda Swacina
Pager: 800-759-8888
Pin 895-3573

Ba Le Meat Processing & Wholesale Recalls Headcheese for Listeria

WASHINGTON,  (SafetyAlerts) - Ba Le Meat Processing & Wholesale, Inc., a Chicago firm, is voluntarily recalling approximately 2,600 pounds of headcheese that may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes bacteria, the U. S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service announced today.

Subject to recall are approximately one to one and 2 pound and 8-pound packages of "Ba Le Gio Thu (Headcheese)." Headcheese is a seasoned loaf made of the head meat of a calf or pig in its natural aspic. The packages bear "Est 18442" in the U. S. Department of Agriculture inspection mark.

The product was produced between January 7 and February 5, 1999, and distributed to Asian specialty stores in the following areas: Philadelphia; New York; Chicago; Houston; Austin,Texas; Garland, Texas; Rochester, Minn.; Raleigh, N.C.; Oakland, Calif.; Tampa, Fla.; St. Petersburg, Fla.; Orlando, Fla.; Coral Springs, Fla.; Silver Spring, Md.; Dorchester, Mass.; and Doraville, Ga.

"Because of the potential of foodborne illness, we urge consumers who have purchased the suspect product not to eat it and to return it to the point of purchase," said Thomas J. Billy, administrator of USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service.

FSIS discovered the problem through its routine monitoring program for Listeria monocytogenes.

At this point, FSIS has received no reports of illness associated with this product. Also, FSIS has no evidence linking this product to the recent nationwide listeriosis outbreak, which is still under joint FSIS and CDC investigation.

Consumption of food contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes can cause listeriosis, an uncommon but potentially fatal disease. Healthy people rarely contract listeriosis. The most common manifestation of listeriosis is meningitis, which has symptoms of high fever, severe headache, neck stiffness, and nausea. Listeriosis can also cause miscarriages and stillbirths, as well as serious and sometimes fatal infections in those with weak immune systems--infants, the frail or elderly, and persons with chronic disease, HIV infection, or undergoing chemotherapy.

Anyone concerned about an illness should contact a physician immediately.

Consumers with questions about food safety or the recall may phone the toll-free USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-800-535-4555. The hotline is staffed from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Eastern Time) Monday through Friday, although recorded information is available 24 hours a day.