Bison products recalled over E. coli concerns

Concern about possible contamination by E. coli O157:H7 has prompted Rocky Mountain Natural Meats to voluntarily recall about 33 tons of ground bison and tenderized bison steaks, including some provided to foodservice distributors in Arizona and Utah, federal officials said.

The recall stems from a determination by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety & Inspection Service that the recalled buffalo products are associated with a cluster of E. coli illnesses being investigated by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and the New York Department of Health. The FSIS said July 2 that six cases of E. coli illness have been identified — five in Colorado and one in New York — and that all had onset dates of from June 4 to June 9.

The FSIS said “there is an association between the ground bison products and the cluster of illnesses in the state of Colorado,” but it did not provide details about the connection or how its existence was established. The agency said the federal and state investigation into the cluster of E. coli illnesses is ongoing.

The FSIS said the products being recalled were sold to retailers nationwide, as well as to the western foodservice distributors. Rocky Mountain Natural Meats is based in Henderson, Colo.

Descriptions of recalled products, including label information, as provided by the manufacturer and the FSIS are as follows:

  • 15-pound boxes of “ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATURAL MEATS, INC. BISON 10 OZ SIRLOIN STEAK,” for restaurants with a Julian Code of “0141.”
  • 16-ounce packages of “GREAT RANGE BRAND ALL NATURAL GROUND BISON,” with “sell or freeze by” dates of June 21, June 22 or June 24, 2010.
  • 16-ounce packages of “NATURE’S RANCHER GROUND BUFFALO,” with a “sell or freeze by” date of June 22, 2010.
  • 16-ounce packages of “THE BUFFALO GUYS ALL NATURAL GROUND BUFFALO 90% LEAN,” with a lot number of “0147.”
  • 12-ounce packages of “GREAT RANGE BRAND ALL NATURAL BISON STEAK MEDALLIONS,” with “sell or freeze by” dates of June 23 and June 24, 2010.
  • 12-ounce packages of “GREAT RANGE BRAND ALL NATURAL BISON SIRLOIN STEAKS,” with “sell or freeze by” dates of June 20, June 23 and June 24, 2010.

The products being recalled bear the establishment number “EST. 20247” inside the USDA mark of inspection and were produced between May 21 and May 27, 2010, the FSIS said. While the “sell-by dates” for these products have passed, the FSIS said foodservice operators and consumers may have frozen some of the items for later use.

E. coli O157:H7 is a potentially deadly pathogen that can cause diarrhea, dehydration, and in the most severe cases, kidney failure. The FSIS advises against the consumption of any ground bison product that has not been cooked to an internal temperature 160 degrees Fahrenheit.

Questions about the Rocky Mountain Natural Meats recall can be directed to company representative Chuck Sanger at 800-325-4164.

The full FSIS release can be read at [3].

Contact Alan J. Liddle at [email protected]