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14 Ill in E. coli Outbreak Tied to Beef Bologna

Fourteen people in three states have been sickened with E. coli O157:H7 in an outbreak linked to  beef bologna.

As a result, the Pennsylvania-based Palmyra Bologna Co. is recalling approximately 23,000 pounds of Lebanon bologna that may be contaminated with E. coli, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced Tuesday.

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Lebanon bologna is named after a county in Pennsylvania.  It is a fermented, semi-dry sausage similar in appearance to salami.

In a news release, FSIS said the four case patients are from New Jersey, North Carolina and Pennsylvania. The onset of their illnesses ranged from Jan. 28 to Feb. 2.  FSIS  was notified of the outbreak cluster on March 10 and has been working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state public health partners in investigating the outbreak.

This is not the first foodborne illness outbreak associated with the Palmyra company’s sausage.

In 1995, 26 people became ill with Salmonella Typhimurium in south central Pennsylvania in an outbreak traced to the consumption of Lebanon bologna.

Because the product is not heat treated to temperatures that would kill dangerous bacteria in the raw meat, a combination of process controls must be followed to ensure that the product is safe to eat. Regulators investigating the 1995 outbreak said poor record keeping prevented them from evaluating the manufacturer’s processes.  

In the current recall, the product packaging for consumers involves the following:

6-ounce packages of “SELTZER’S BEEF LEBANON BOLOGNA” with lot code “01351” and best-by date of “Apr. 20 2011” printed on the package.

12-ounce packages of “SELTZER’S BEEF LEBANON BOLOGNA” with lot code “01351” and best-by dates of “Apr. 20 2011” or “Apr. 21 2011” printed on the package.

16-ounce packages of “SELTZER’S BEEF LEBANON BOLOGNA” with lot code “01351” and best-by date of “Apr. 22 2011” printed on the package.

Each package bears a label with establishment number “EST. 474” inside the USDA mark of inspection, in addition to lot code “01351” and the best-by date as noted above. The recalled products were produced in December 2010 and shipped to distribution centers in California, Colorado, Maryland, New York and Pennsylvania for further distribution to retail stores. 

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The product packaging for retailers includes: 

Whole chub packages of “SELTZER’S BEEF LEBANON BOLOGNA” with lot codes “01351” or “06337” and best-by date of “Feb. 14 2011,” “Feb. 15 2011,” “Feb. 16 2011,” or “Feb. 28 2011” printed on the package.

Half chub packages of “SELTZER’S BEEF LEBANON BOLOGNA” with lot codes “01351” or “06337” and best-by date of “Apr. 6 2011,” “Apr. 7 2011,” “Apr. 16 2011,” or “Apr. 19 2011,” printed on the package.

12-pound bulk boxes of sliced “SELTZER’S BEEF LEBANON BOLOGNA” with lot code “01351” and best-by date of “Apr. 21 2011” printed on the package.

Each package bears a label with establishment number “EST. 474” inside the USDA mark of inspection, in addition to either lot code “06337” or “01351.” They were sold to retailers and may have been further sliced and repackaged at retail. The products being recalled were produced in December 2010 and sent to distribution centers in California, Colorado, Maryland, New York and Pennsylvania for further distribution to retail stores. 

When available, the retail distribution list(s) will be posted on FSIS’ website

E. coli O157:H7 is a potentially deadly bacterium that can cause bloody diarrhea, dehydration, and in the most severe cases, kidney failure. 

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