USDA: Bad beef may have gone to stores


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The U.S. Department of Agriculture says some ground beef carrying a particularly dangerous strain of E. coli may have been distributed grocery stores in West Michigan.

The USDA Wednesday said it has reason to believe that some of the 1.8 million pounds of recalled beef from the Detroit-based Wolverine Packing Company was sold at Gordon Food Service (GFS) Marketplaces in Michigan, though it did not specify which stores. It also said the beef may have been sold at GFS stores in Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Wisconsin.

In a Wednesday statement, GFS Marketing Director Deb Abraham said the store has “implemented standard recall procedures, which includes urgent notification to the stores with instructions to dispose of all recalled product and to display a recall notice.”

GFS advised customers to check their meat and dispose of any of the recalled product. It said customers could bring in their receipt or the product packaging for a refund.

GFS also distributes meat to the M-66 General Store, located at 5900 N. State Road in Orleans Township, north of the city of Ionia.

The M-66 General Store. (May 21, 2014)
(The M-66 General Store. May 21, 2014)

M-66 General Store told 24 Hour News 8 it was notified Tuesday by its rep from GFS that it may have been given some of the recalled ground beef. Workers checked their store, but didn’t have any of the affected beef in stock. However, it’s unclear if the store previously had and sold some of the meat.

Other store locations on the USDA’s list were not in Michigan, but the USDA said its list is not all-inclusive and that some stores on the list may not have actually received the bad meat.The list is expected to be updated Thursday.

The USDA advised consumers to check their meat to see if it came from the recalled lot.

The strain of E. coli the ground beef may carry is potentially fatal. Five people in Michigan — including one in Kent County — have become sick from the bacteria. Symptoms include vomiting and abdominal cramps, but the key symptom is bloody diarrhea.

Health officials from state and federal agencies say investigations into recalls like this one take time. It can take up to 10 days before someone becomes sick from E. coli; and then two to three weeks more to get a sample, test it, and report it to the health department.  The investigation then goes on from there to the recall level.

“In a public health realm, it does seem like it moved fairly on schedule, but we do understand the concern and we certainly do want to make sure we are as proactive as possible in letting the public know of any risks that are out there,” Michigan Department of Community Health spokeswoman Angela Minicuci said. “In a public health investigation standpoint, it actually didn’t take long. This is actually the normal time frame.”

Online: A timeline from the CDC showing how long it takes to investigate E. coli infections (pdf)

Chuck Sanger, the spokesperson for Detroit based Wolverine Packing Wednesday told 24 Hour News 8 in a phone interview the company decided to issue the voluntary recall “out of an overabundance of caution.”

Referencing the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, he said that “they are the experts in this and when they make a suggestion like this, we take it pretty seriously.”

He said the investigation into the cause of the E. coli is ongoing.

“We encourage anyone who has a concern to be sure to cook all ground beef to a minimum temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit and measure the temperature with a meat thermometer,” a text statement from the company read in part.

“Additionally, the recalled product is labeled with establishment number ‘EST. 2574B’ with a production date code in the format ‘Packing Nos: MM DD 14′ between ’03 31 14′ and ’04 18 14,'” the statement continued. “Any product labeled with this establishment number and production date code should return the ground beef to the place of purchase for a refund.”

The full text of the statement GFS released about the recall Wednesday evening:

“GFS Marketplace stores stock one of the products that was included in the Wolverine Packaging Co. voluntary beef recall. That product is a Fresh Premium Angus Beef Steakburger Patty, 10 count, 4lb package. The recalled product was produced between March 31, 2014 and April 18, 2014. The GFS Marketplace store reorder number is 841757.

“Upon learning of the recall, GFS Marketplace implemented standard recall procedures, which includes urgent notification to the stores with instructions to dispose of all recalled product and to display a recall notice. Gordon Food Service also posted the recall notice it received from Wolverine Packaging Co. on gfs.com.

“GFS Marketplace offers a 100% satisfaction guarantee on everything we sell. Any customer that purchased the Fresh Premium Angus Beef Steakburger affected by the Wolverine Packaging Co. voluntary recall should discard any remaining product immediately. Customers will be issued a full refund of their purchase by bringing either their sales receipt or the product packaging to their local GFS Marketplace store.”

Click here to watch Chef Tommy Fitzgerald share tips on how to grill meat safely, or watch below.

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Online:

The USDA’s full list of where the beef may have been sold (pdf)

The full list of recalled items (pdf)

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