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E. coli Risk Prompts Whole Foods to Issue Recall

Aug. 11, 2008 -- Whole Foods Market is recalling fresh ground beef sold between June 2 and Aug. 6 in certain states because of possible contamination with E. coli bacteria.

E. coli bacteria can cause diarrhea, which may be bloody, as well as stomach cramps and vomiting. Most people recover within five to seven days, but some cases may be severe or life-threatening; infants, elders, and people with weak immune systems are particularly at risk.

According to a Whole Foods news release, illnesses allegedly linked to ground beef from Whole Foods Market are in Massachusetts and Pennsylvania. The Whole Foods ground beef recall includes stores in:

  • Alabama
  • Canada
  • Connecticut
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Illinois
  • Kentucky
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Missouri
  • Nebraska
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • Ohio
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Virginia
  • Washington, D.C.
  • Wisconsin

If you've got any of the suspect ground beef in your refrigerator or freezer, return it to your Whole Foods store with the packaging or receipt for a full refund. If you're going grocery shopping, know that Whole Foods stores have already pulled suspect ground beef off their store shelves.

Whole Foods voluntarily issued the ground beef recall as a precaution because of concerns about Coleman Natural Beef processed by Nebraska Beef Ltd.

In July, E. coli risk spurred Nebraska Beef to recall about 531,700 pounds of beef used to make ground beef. That recall included beef sent to Kroger stores. According to the Whole Foods news release, Coleman Natural Beef had assured Whole Foods that products sent to Whole Foods stores weren't linked to the recall, but Whole Foods now questions those assurances.

Coleman Natural, as the company is now called, sold their beef business to another firm, Meyer Natural Angus, in April. As part of that deal, Meyer Natural Angus may use the Coleman brand name for a year.

The suspect beef at Whole Foods isn't Coleman's beef, Katie Coakley, a spokeswoman for Coleman Natural, tells WebMD. "It's not our beef because we don't have any beef anymore," Coakley says.

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