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June 2, 1998

Costco Recalls Kirkland Signature Frozen Ground Beef Patties For E. coli O157:H7

ISSIQUAH, WA (SafetyAlerts) - Costco Wholesale Corp. is voluntarily recalling about 172,000 pounds of frozen ground beef patties sold at Costco wholesale stores that may be contaminated with Escherichia coli O157:H7 bacteria, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service announced today.

All 6-pound packages of the following two products are being recalled: "Kirkland Signature GROUND SIRLOIN and Loin of Beef Patties," Item # 18508 (18 individual 1/3-pound frozen patties) and "Kirkland Signature GROUND BEEF PATTIES," Item # 18498 (24 individual 1/4-pound frozen patties).

Subject to recall are boxes of the Ground Sirloin Patties with the date code "04/07/98 MFG" or "04/06/98 MFG" on the bottom and boxes of the Ground Beef Patties with the date code "04/07/98 MFG" on the bottom. The time in military format precedes the date code. "EST. 18532" appears inside the USDA inspection seal on the product label. No other products are affected by the recall.

The two beef products were distributed exclusively to Costco Wholesale Stores located in 24 states. USDA cautioned that consumers often transport wholesale purchases across state lines. Costco distributed the recalled product to the following 24 states: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington.

"Because of the potential hazard of foodborne disease from consumption of undercooked frozen beef patties contaminated with the E. coli O157:H7 bacteria, we urge consumers who may have purchased the suspect product to return it to the place of purchase," said Thomas J. Billy, administrator of USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service. "USDA is informing the public so consumers who may have purchased and stored this product in their freezers will be sure to check," Billy said.

USDA requested a full-scale recall today after laboratory tests confirmed the presence of E. coli O157:H7 in product from a production lot that was linked to an illness reported in New York state.

E. coli O157:H7 is a potentially deadly pathogen that can cause bloody diarrhea and dehydration. The very young, the elderly, and persons with compromised immune systems are the most susceptible to foodborne illness. E. coli O157:H7 has been implicated in several recent outbreaks of foodborne illness across the United States.

USDA urges consumers to cook all ground beef and hamburger thoroughly. The best way to ensure this is to use a meat thermometer, because ground beef can turn brown before disease-causing bacteria are killed. To kill bacteria, cook ground beef patties until a thermometer inserted into the center of the patty reads 160 degrees F. Persons who choose not to use a thermometer can decrease their risk of illness by not eating ground beef patties that are still pink in the middle. For more advice on cooking ground beef, visit the Food Safety and Inspection Service website at

Consumers with questions about the recall, or other food safety or handling questions may phone the toll-free USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-800-535-4555. The hotline can be reached from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Eastern Time) Monday through Friday. In addition, timely food safety messages are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

To help consumers identify the product, the company has provided the following toll-free consumer inquiry number: 1-800-727-8248. The number can be called from 7:00 am to 9:00 pm Pacific Time Monday through Sunday.

Safety Alerts compiles comprehensive safety recall information for the United States. SafeMail is a free email service to warn consumers of faulty products and contaminated foods. For complete information regarding current recalls, past recalls and timely product warning notification visit:



The information contained herein has been obtained from sources that the Company believes to be reliable, however, the Company has not independently verified or confirmed the information and the recipient acknowledges that no representations or warranties are being made in connection with the use of the information.