WASHINGTON — Whole Foods Market has pulled fresh ground beef from all of its stores in the second E. coli outbreak linked to Nebraska Beef in as many months.
The meat Whole Foods recalled came from Coleman Natural Foods, which unbeknownst to Whole Foods had processed it at Nebraska Beef of Omaha. One of the nation's largest meatpackers, Nebraska Beef has a history of food-safety and other violations.
Last month Nebraska Beef recalled more than 5 million pounds of beef produced in May and June after its meat was blamed for an E. coli outbreak in seven states.
On Friday it recalled an additional 1.2 million pounds of beef produced on June 17, June 24 and July 8, which included products eventually sold to Whole Foods.
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Saturday, August 16, 2008 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 56 words Type of Material: Correction
Beef recall: An article and its headline in Sunday's Section A said Whole Foods had recalled all of its fresh ground beef as part of an E. coli outbreak linked to a supplier. Whole Foods' formal recall happened in 25 states, the District of Columbia and Canada, but did not extend to stores in the West.
The recall is not related to the recent spate of E. coli illnesses among Boy Scouts at a gathering in Goshen, Va. Azusa-based S&S Foods recalled more than 150,000 pounds of beef after that outbreak.
Whole Foods is investigating why it was not aware that Coleman was using Nebraska Beef as a processor, spokeswoman Libba Letton said.
The chain's managers took action after Massachusetts health officials informed them Aug. 1 that seven people who had gotten sick from E. coli O157:H7 had all bought ground beef from Whole Foods.
The same strain has sickened 31 people so far in 12 states, the District of Columbia and Canada.
So far, tests have not found contaminated Whole Foods beef, Letton said.
More information on the voluntary recall is in the press section of Whole Foods’ website.