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June 30, 2003

Illinois Firm Recalls Beef Products For Possible E. coli O157:H7

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(SafetyAlerts) -U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service said that Stampede Meat, Inc., a Chicago, Ill., establishment, is voluntarily recalling approximately 739,000 pounds of frozen beef products, mostly vacuum packaged steaks, that may be contaminated with E. coli O157:H7.

The products subject to recall were produced between March 17 and March 22, 2003, and bear the establishment code "EST. 19113" inside the USDA mark of inspection. The products were distributed to restaurants, institutions and retail stores nationwide. The products were also distributed to consumers through door-to-door sales. Additionally, the products were distributed to institutions in Canada.

The recall was initiated after epidemiological case studies conducted by public health officials concluded the recalled product may be linked to five E. coli O157:H7 illnesses in Minnesota, Kansas and Michigan.

Public health officials from FSIS, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and several state health departments are continuing to investigate the extent of the outbreak and determine if additional products are linked to illnesses reported. Anyone concerned about an illness should contact a physician immediately.

E. coli O157:H7 is a potentially deadly bacteria that can cause bloody diarrhea and dehydration. The very young, seniors and persons with compromised immune systems are the most susceptible to foodborne illness.

Generally, steaks are not considered a high-risk source of E. coli O157: H7. However, the products subject to recall were injected with tenderizers and flavor-enhancing solutions, and that process may have transferred the bacteria from the surface to the inside of the product. Consumers should return the recalled products to the point of purchase and cook similar (tenderized) products to an internal temperature of 160 degrees as measured with a food thermometer.

Consumers and media with questions about the recall may contact Bill Asleson, company executive manager, at (800) 353-0933. Consumers with other food safety questions can phone the toll-free USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-800-535-4555. The hotline is available in English and Spanish and can be reached from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Eastern Time), Monday through Friday. Recorded food safety messages are available 24 hours a day.

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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.