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More than a million pounds of fresh ground beef has been recalled by an Omaha meat processing plant after 31 people were reported to have tested positive for E. Coli. Last month Nebraska Beef recalled approximately 5 million pounds of ground beef after reports of E. Coli.

The tainted beef was sold at Whole Foods, who buys their beef from Coleman Natural Foods, not Nebraska Beef; but Coleman uses the Nebraska Beef plant to process their beef. As a result Whole Foods also issued a recall of all ground beef sold at their stores between June 2 and August 6. It recommended that consumers should dispose of the beef bought between these dates.

Federal inspectors have been at the plant watching the processing of meat trying to determine the source. What’s disturbing is that they have not found the source, yet Nebraska Beef continues to process beef. According to the USDA recall:

“FSIS(Food Safety and Inspection Service) has concluded that the production practices employed by Nebraska Beef, Ltd. are insufficient to effectively control E. coli O157:H7 in their beef products that are intended for grinding. The products subject to recall may have been produced under insanitary conditions.

The products subject to recall were further processed into ground beef at other firms, and will likely not bear the establishment number “EST 19336″ on products made available for direct consumer purchase.”

“We will continue to investigate to see what is happening at the plant to see what they have to do to get a handle on their food-safety issues,” said agency spokeswoman Laura Reiser.

Meanwhile, the USDA’s recall “advises all consumers to safely prepare their raw meat products, and only consume ground beef or ground beef patties that have been cooked to a safe internal temperature of 160º F. The only way to be sure ground beef is cooked to a high enough temperature to kill harmful bacteria is to use a thermometer to measure the internal temperature.” In other words, buyer beware.

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