State Health, Agriculture Departments Expand E. Coli Warning

ALBANY, NY, November 10, 2005 - State Health Commissioner Antonia C. Novello, M.D., M.P.H., Dr.P.H. and Agriculture Commissioner Nathan L. Rudgers today issued additional warnings to consumers not to eat ground beef patties made by Quaker Maid Meats Inc. and identified as "Philly-Gourmet 100% Pure Beef Homestyle Patties." An uncoded three pound box of this product tested positive for E. coli O157:H7, a potentially life-threatening bacteria, at the New York State Health Department Laboratory.

The Philly-Gourmet ground beef patties are available in stores throughout New York State. Consumers should locate the product code on the end panel of the boxes. If the code is 2005A, 2005B, 2005C, 2005D or no code is written, consumers should discard the product or return it to the place of purchase.

The contamination was discovered after three Saratoga County residents became ill after consuming a hamburger. The E. coli O157:H7 strain found in one of the ill persons matched an E. coli O157:H7 strain found in a remaining Philly-Gourmet beef patty from the freezer at the ill person's home. Laboratory tests were conducted by the New York State Department of Health, using a type of DNA fingerprinting.

A follow-up investigation is being conducted by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, the New York State Department of Health, and Saratoga County Department of Health.

Symptoms of E. coli O157:H7 infection include severe abdominal cramps and diarrhea, which may be watery and bloody. Other symptoms include vomiting and nausea accompanied by a low-grade fever. Anyone developing these symptoms should contact a doctor immediately.

Although most healthy adults can recover from E. coli O157:H7 infection completely within a week, some people can develop a form of kidney failure called Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS). HUS is most likely to occur in young children and the elderly. This condition can lead to serious kidney damage and even death.

As a reminder, people should always properly prepare and cook ground beef to 160 degrees Fahrenheit. Use a meat thermometer to determine if meat is properly cooked, especially in the center. Wash all utensils and cutting surfaces thoroughly. Never let cooked meat or other ready-to-eat foods touch an unwashed surface that raw meat has touched.