Suspicions that some minced or ground beef products may be contaminated with a dangerous strain of the E. coli bacteria have forced the recall of 5,200 pounds of the meat in the United States.
It is thought the meat may contain the same potentially deadly strain of E. coli that was recently found in packets of spinach.
The spinach has been linked to an outbreak of the bacteria across 26 states in the U.S. and has to date caused three deaths.
The Iowa company Jim's Market and Locker which produced and packaged the ground beef patties has recalled the ground beef products which are distributed in New York and Georgia, Iowa, Massachusetts, Nebraska, Texas and Wisconsin.
Each package bears the establishment number "Est. 2424" inside the USDA mark of inspection and were produced on August 31 and September 1, and labels include the words Davis Mountain, Davis Mountains, Master Choice, Nebraska Beef, Farner-Bocken, Irwin or Stube Ranch.
Federal health officials say so far no illnesses have been reported from beef consumption but the U.S. Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) are advising customers who bought the affected products to return them to the place of purchase.
It is thought to be responsible for as many as 60 deaths and 73,000 infections a year in the United States.
Health officials advise that other ground beef products should be cooked to a temperature of 160 °F throughout, which ensures that any harmful bacteria such as E. coli O157:H7 are killed.
The only way to be sure a ground beef patty is cooked to a high enough temperature to achieve this, is to use an accurate food thermometer.
E. coli O157:H7 is a potentially deadly bacterium which lives in the intestines of cattle and other animals; it can lead to serious illness or even death and those most at risk are young children, seniors, and those with compromised immune systems; it can cause bloody diarrhea and dehydration.
The presence of the bacteria was discovered through microbiological testing but the FSIS, as yet, has received no reports of illnesses associated with consumption of the meat.
A Tennessee company also recalled 4,300 pounds of ground beef in early August because of possible E. coli contamination.
Consumers can check with www.fsis.usda.gov for a full list of products recalled and for more information.