Company Recalls Beef After Tests Spot E. coli

A company based in Androscoggin County said that it will recall more than 2,000 pounds of ground and tenderized beef that may have been contaminated with E. coli bacteria.

Town and Country Foods, a food distributor based in Greene, was identified as the company in a press release issued by the US Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service.

Bill Bagley, a spokesman for the inspection service, said 2,057 pounds of beef that could be contaminated were shipped from April 4 to April 10.

He said the products were distributed to wholesalers and retailers in Maine, but the list of stores that received the beef was not available Wednesday night from the inspection service.

"This recall is certainly at the smaller end," Bagley said. "We've had recalls in the past involving millions of pounds of ground beef."

Though the list of affected retailers has not been published, Ronald Grant, chairman of Greene's selectmen, said Town and Country Foods serves mostly smaller-scale grocery stores and local markets.

"They provide product to a lot of small stores in a pretty big area, some as far away as Rangeley," said Grant, who is the semi-retired owner of Grant's Bakery in Lewiston.

Grant's has bought ground pork, eggs and hot dogs from Town and Country for years, he said. "They have a niche market."

Bagley said Town and Country initiated the recall after company lab testing turned up a positive result for E. coli.

There have been no reports of anyone getting sick after eating products included in the recall, he said.

E. coli is a potentially deadly bacterium that can cause bloody diarrhea, dehydration and, in the most severe cases, kidney failure. People who are very young, very old or who have weak immune systems are at the highest risk.

Hannaford Supermarkets, which conducted a ground beef recall in December, does not carry Town and Country beef products, according to spokesman Mike Norton.

Hannaford recalled 100,000 pounds of ground beef that might have been contaminated with a rare salmonella typhimurium strain sold from Oct. 12 to Nov. 20, Norton said.

Here is list of the products that will be recalled by Town and Country Foods:

  • Five- and 10-pound boxes of two, 2.6, three and four-ounce regular and extra large hamburger patties.
  • Ten-pound boxes containing beef for stewing in bags of various weights.
  • Six-, eight- and 10-ounce beef sirloin filets.
  • Five- and 10-pound boxes containing variously weighted bags of regular and extra large hamburger.

Each case bears a label with the establishment number "EST. 9710" inside the USDA mark of inspection. The recalled products also contain the following packaging codes: 10952, 10962, 10972, 11002 and 11012.

Bagley said the Food Safety and Inspection Service advise consumers to safely prepare raw meat products, whether fresh or frozen. Ground beef should not be eaten unless it has been cooked to a temperature of 160 degrees.

Anyone handling raw meat should wash hands before and after with warm or hot water and soap. They should vigorously rub hands together for at least 20 seconds.

Source: Portland Press Herald, Maine