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    Publix recalls ground beef products

    The recall of the grocery chain's own brand involves possible E. coli contamination at a supplier's plant.

    By LOUIS HAU, Times Staff Writer
    © St. Petersburg Times
    published October 4, 2002

    If you bought ground beef from a Publix supermarket in August or September, you may want to check your freezer.

    The Lakeland grocery giant announced Thursday that it was recalling all Publix brand ground beef products with sell-by dates from Aug. 23 through Sept. 11.

    The recall, which excludes products sold under the Maverick brand name, stemmed from concerns about possible E. coli contamination at a plant operated by Emmpak Foods Inc. of Milwaukee, Wis., one of Publix's four major suppliers of ground beef products.

    The Publix recall includes ground beef, ground chuck, ground sirloin, ground round, lean ground beef, hamburger patties and meatloaf sold during that time. The recall affects Publix stores in Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina and 26 Florida counties, including Pinellas, Hillsborough, Pasco, Hernando and Citrus.

    Customers can return the affected meat to any Publix store for a refund or exchange.

    Publix isn't aware of any instances of E. coli infection in Florida related to consumption of the ground beef, Publix spokesman Lee Brunson said.

    Emmpak initially recalled 416,000 pounds of ground beef last Friday in Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin. But investigators for the U.S. Department of Agriculture advised the company late Wednesday to expand its recall nationwide to encompass a total of 2.8-million pounds of beef, according to Emmpak spokesman Mark Klein.

    The affected plant, which is in Milwaukee, was shut down Thursday, he said.

    It is Emmpak's second recall in the past two years. In May 2001, the company recalled more than 400,000 pounds of ground beef because of concerns about E. coli contamination at another plant in a Milwaukee suburb.

    Despite the expansion of the recall, it doesn't encompass all grocery chains. Representatives for Winn-Dixie and Kash n' Karry said they don't use Emmpak as a supplier and were unaffected by the recall.

    E. coli is found in animal feces and can be spread when livestock are slaughtered. Infection can cause severe diarrhea and stomach cramps and can occasionally be fatal. Cooking ground beef thoroughly to 160 degrees can prevent infection.

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