MONTEBELLO, California — A Southern California meatpacking firm has significantly expanded its recall of ground beef and veal that might be contaminated with E. coli.
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The recall includes approximately an additional 4.9 million pounds of products by Huntington Meat Packing Inc. under the Huntington, Imperial Meat Co. and El Rancho brands, the Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service said Friday.
The original recall was announced Jan. 18 and was for 864,000 pounds of meat .
E. coli is a potentially deadly germ that can cause bloody diarrhea, dehydration and, in severe cases, kidney failure. The germ can be killed by cooking fresh and frozen meat products to an internal temperature of 160 degrees (71 Celsius).
There have been no reports of illnesses associated with consumption of the products, the food safety agency said.
The affected beef and veal was sold to distribution centers, restaurants and hotels in California between Jan 4. and Jan. 22, 2010. Each box bears the establishment number "EST. 17967" inside the USDA mark of inspection.
The products include ground beef patties, diced beef, veal patties and beef burrito filling mix.
The original recall was expanded based on evidence collected in an ongoing criminal investigation being conducted by the Office of the Inspector General, according to FSIS. Inspectors found the products were prepared in a manner that did not follow rules to prevent food safety hazards.
The agency also said the investigation found Huntington's food safety records to be unreliable.
A call to the Montebello-based company was not immediately returned Saturday.
FSIS inspectors conduct regular checks to make sure firms that have recalled products notify their customers of the problem and take steps to make sure the products are off the market.
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