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October 14, 2002

Pilgrim’s Pride and Wampler Foods Has Recalled 27.4 million pounds of fresh and frozen ready-to-eat turkey and chicken

Franconia, PA (SafetyAlerts) - U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service said that Pilgrim’s Pride Corporation has recalled approximately 27.4 million pounds of fresh and frozen ready-to-eat turkey and chicken products that may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

The products were produced between May 1 and Oct. 11. In addition, the establishment has voluntarily suspended operations.

The turkey and chicken products were distributed to retail stores, restaurants and institutions nationwide.

"We want consumers to be aware of the recall because of the potential for foodborne illness," said Dr. Garry L. McKee, FSIS administrator. "Diners may also wish to ask if their meals contain the recalled products."

Today’s recall, an expansion of the Oct. 9 recall of 295,000 pounds of turkey and chicken products, is the result of FSIS’ continuing scientific investigation into the cause of illnesses, deaths and miscarriages in the Northeast from Listeria monocytogenes.

The Oct. 9 recall was prompted by a product sample taken by FSIS at the facility that tested positive for Listeria monocytogenes. The strain found in the product does not match the strain common to illness victims. FSIS continued its investigation by taking additional product samples, as well as a large number of environmental samples from multiple locations in the plant.

Results of the product sampling from various days of production were all negative. However, environmental sampling demonstrated the presence in the plant of the Listeria monocytogenes strain matching the Oct. 9 recalled product.

FSIS has been working continuously since early September with other federal and state public health agencies in an attempt to discover the source of Listeria monocytogenes illnesses in the Northeast.

As part of that effort, FSIS’ Microbial Outbreaks and Special Projects Branch (MOSPB) laboratory in Athens, Ga., has conducted more than 400 tests on products that the agency regulates. The environmental samples were analyzed at the FSIS field lab in St. Louis, Mo.

In addition, more than 50 scientists at FSIS’ laboratories, regional epidemiologists, consumer safety officers, compliance officers and personnel in the field and at USDA headquarters have been dedicated to the investigation.

While the investigation into Listeria monocytogenes illnesses continues, Dr. McKee commended the agencies that have participated thus far in the effort, saying that their cooperation has helped FSIS greatly.

"While I am very proud of our scientists and investigators for their skill and dogged determination, I am also heartened by the degree of cooperation FSIS has received from other public health agencies," Dr. McKee said. "This investigation can be held up as a model for how agencies should act in concert with one another to protect public health."

Consumption of food contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes can cause listeriosis, an uncommon but potentially fatal disease. Healthy people rarely contract listeriosis. Listeriosis can cause 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 taking chemotherapy.

Anyone concerned about an illness should contact a physician.

Consumers with questions about the recall may contact the company’s consumer information recall hotline at (877) 260-7110. Media with questions about the recall may contact Ray Atkinson, public relations manager, Pilgrim's Pride Corporation, at (540) 896-0406.

Selected Recent Recalls

Health Professional:

Did you know?
During 2000 there were over
1050 products recalled in the United
States for safety reasons!

How many did you hear about?

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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.