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September 14, 1999

20,000 Pounds of Ground Beef Recalled by Texas Grocery Chain for E. coli Contamination

AUSTIN, TX (SafetyAlerts) Texas Department of Health (TDH) food safety officials announced today a voluntary recall of some 20,000 pounds of ground beef sold by H-E-B grocery company.

The recall applies to H-E-B ground beef packaged in styrofoam trays with clear plastic wrapping with "sell by" dates of Sept. 13 and 14 and to 16-ounce aqua and green tubes of "super lean" ground beef with a "sell by" date of Sept. 23.

H-E-B officials said the ground beef was sold Sunday and Monday in many of its 160 stores in Texas. Company officials said the recalled ground beef had not been sent to the company's Central Market and Pantry Food stores.

The recall was initiated by H-E-B after internal routine testing detected the presence of E. coli O157:H7 in a one-ounce sample of ground beef in a company warehouse.  TDH officials said they are satisfied that all of the recalled product has been removed from the shelves.

Steve McAndrew, director of TDH's retail foods division, said anyone who had purchased the ground beef could return it to H-E-B for a full refund and that H-E-B officials said they would test the returned packages for E. coli on customer request.

E. coli 0157:H7 can cause severe, often bloody diarrhea and painful abdominal cramps, but some people show few or no symptoms. In some persons, particularly children younger than 5 years of age and the elderly, the infections can lead to hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), which can result in stroke, seizures and death.

McAndrew said cooking the ground beef to an internal temperature of at least 160 degrees F kills the E. coli bacteria. "Recall or not, our standing recommendation is that all ground beef be cooked to an internal temperature of 160 degrees," he said.

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