ELIZABETH N.J. Topps Meat Co. issued a nationwide recall Saturday for 21.7 million pounds of ground beef products sold to foodservice companies and retailers, after some 25 cases of infections with potentially lethal E. coli O157:H7 bacteria were reported by consumers in eight states from Maine to Florida.
The products, including frozen hamburger patties, were manufactured over the last year and bear a "sell by" or "best used by" date of Sept. 25, 2007, through next Sept. 25 and the U.S. Department of Agriculture designation EST 9748.
Richard Raymond, the USDA's undersecretary of food safety, said in an interview Monday on CBS's "Early Show" that the U.S. beef supply is "the safest in the world."
"A recall like this does show that we are on the job, we are doing our inspections, our investigation, and we respond when we find problems to make sure that supply is safe," he said.
Raymond said a special inspection of Topps' facilities in New Jersey found "inadequate" food-safety policies, prompting an expansion of the original recall.
Elizabeth, N.J.-based Topps, one of the nation's largest meat processors, last Tuesday recalled nearly 332,000 pounds of beef in its first such act in the company's 67-year history. Its expansion of the recall Saturday made the alert one of the biggest of recent years, the USDA said.
Illnesses also were reported in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Indiana, Ohio and Pennsylvania.