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Contact: Steve Lombardi
Beth Gaston


        WASHINGTON, November 24, 1998--Colorado Boxed Beef Co., an Auburndale, Fla., meat processing firm, is voluntarily recalling about 359,000 pounds of various ground beef products that may be contaminated with Escherichia coli O157:H7 bacteria, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service announced today.

        Subject to recall are all ground beef products sold under the "Colorado Gold," "200% Guarantee," and "Winn-Dixie" brand names with "Est. 7353" inside the USDA inspection legend on the label and with the following sell-by dates:

  • Ground beef patty products with sell-by dates of 11/06 through 11/10;
  • Any other fresh ground beef products with sell-by dates of 11/07 through 11/11.

        Products were distributed to Albertson’s, Wal-Mart Super Centers, and Winn-Dixie stores in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina. Some "Colorado Gold" product was shipped to Jacksonville Naval Station.

        USDA learned of the problem from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, which regularly tests ground beef sold at retail stores. Product sampled by Florida at a retail store in Orlando was found positive for E. coli O157:H7.

        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 bacteria have been implicated in several recent outbreaks of foodborne illness across the United States.

        "Because of the potential hazard of foodborne disease from consumption of undercooked or underprocessed meat and poultry products contaminated with pathogens such as E. coli O157:H7, 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 product will check their freezers," Billy said. "Although we urge customers to return this product, we want to use this opportunity to underscore how important it is to always thoroughly cook ground beef," Billy said.

        Consumers with questions about the recall 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.

NOTE TO EDITORS: Media inquiries to the company should be directed to Jerry Heyman at 941-967-0636 ext 208.