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An outbreak of E. coli in ground beef products has sickened more than two dozen people and killed at least two—one in New Hampshire and another in upstate New York.

Now, Fairbanks Farms, the New York State company suspected of producing the tainted beef, has issued a recall of 545,699 pounds of ground beef products.

E. coli is a dangerous bacterium which can cause bloody diarrhea, dehydration, and kidney failure, especially in young children, the elderly, and those with weak immune systems. It was recently found in contaminated beef from Illinois producer Valley Meats; hundreds of consumers became sick from the E-coli in these products.

The products in question are ground beef or packaged beef patties that were made from Sept. 14 to Sept. 16 and distributed mostly in the Northeast. All are stamped “EST 492,” either within the Department of Agriculture’s mark of inspection or near the nutrition facts.

The products went to retailers in eight states: Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Virginia. The stores receiving them included Trader Joe’s, Giant, Price Chopper, Wild Harvest and Shaw’s.

Donna Rosenbaum, executive director of Safe Tables Our Priority, a food safety organization, said…that the nation’s food inspection system needed reform.

“To this day,” she said, “contamination problems are not found by any checks on the products by companies. They’re found when people get sick, and that’s a failure in the system.”–New York Times

As of today, since all of the recalled products are at least three weeks past their sell-by dates, none should still be on store shelves.

If you have ground beef at home with an EST 492 stamp, please do not eat it, and either dispose of it immediately without opening it, or return it to the store for a refund. Even if you cook the beef thoroughly, which can kill the bacteria, preparing it in the kitchen can contaminate utensils and surfaces. Even tiny doses can cause harm.

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