Henderson, Colorado-based Rocky Mountain Natural Meats recalled approximately 66,000 pounds of ground and tenderized steak bison products for potential E. coli O157:H7 contamination late Friday.

The recall was initiated after the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) became aware of an E. coli O157:H7 outbreak associated with the products.  A joint E. coli outbreak investigation by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, and the New York Department of Health revealed that at least 6 people became ill with E. coli O157:H7 infections after consuming the bison products produced by Rocky Mountain Natural Meats.  

In a press release, FSIS announced that five case-patients from Colorado and 1 case-patient from New York have tested positive for an indistinguishable strain of E. coli O157:H7 from the strain that was isolated from the bison products.  Illness onset dates for the case-patients were between June 4 and June 9.

E. coli O157:H7 is a potentially deadly bacterium that can cause bloody diarrhea, dehydration, and in the most severe cases, kidney failure. The very young, seniors, and persons with weak immune systems are the most susceptible to E. coli infection and other foodborne illnesses.

The recalled products were distributed to retail establishments nationwide and to food service distributors in Utah and Arizona.  The products were produced between May 21, 2010 and May 27, 2010 and bear the establishment number “EST. 2047 within the USDA mark of inspection.  

While the sell-by date for these recalled bison products has passed, consumers may still have the product in their freezers.

bufffalo-recall.jpgThe following products are subject to recall:

* 16-ounce packages of “GREAT RANGE BRAND ALL NATURAL GROUND BISON.” These products have a “sell or freeze by” date of June 21, June 22 or June 24, 2010.

* 16-ounce packages of “NATURE’S RANCHER GROUND BUFFALO.” These products have a “sell or freeze by” date of June 22, 2010.

* 16-ounce packages of “THE BUFFALO GUYS ALL NATURAL GROUND BUFFALO 90% LEAN.” These products have a lot number of 0147.

* 12-ounce packages of “GREAT RANGE BRAND ALL NATURAL BISON STEAK MEDALLIONS.” These products have a “sell or freeze by” date of June 23 and June 24, 2010

* 12-ounce packages of “GREAT RANGE BRAND ALL NATURAL BISON SIRLOIN STEAKS.” These products have a “sell or freeze by” date of June 20, June 23 and June 24, 2010

* 15-pound boxes of “ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATURAL MEATS, INC. BISON 10 OZ SIRLOIN STEAK.” These products went to restaurants and bear a Julian Code of 0141.

FSIS released the retail distribution list for the bison products (pdf), which is available on the FSIS Website. 

Consumer questions regarding the recall should be directed to the company’s spokesperson, Chuck Sanger at (800) 325-4164.