DODGE CITY, Kan. -- At least three major grocery store chains have recalled some of their ground beef packages because they could be contaminated with E. coli bacteria.
Winn-Dixie Stores Inc., Publix Super Markets Inc. and Kroger Co. announced the recalls mainly in the southeastern U.S. and said they stem from problems at the National Beef Packaging Co. of Dodge City, Kan.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Friday that National Beef was recalling more than 60,000 pounds of beef after the Ohio Department of Agriculture found the bacteria during routine testing.
The recalls affect products sold mainly in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, South Carolina and Tennessee, but the meat was sent to several distributors and could have been repackaged for consumers and sold nationwide.
The agriculture department says there have been no reports of illnesses. A spokesman for National Beef said the company has never had a problem with E. coli. It is checking processes and procedures in an effort to find the cause and prevent it from happening again, the spokesman said.
E. coli can be deadly and can cause bloody diarrhea, dehydration and other problems. The agriculture department cautioned people to cook ground beef to a temperature of at least 160 degrees. The temperature should be checked with a food thermometer that measures internal temperature, the agency said.
The meat also was distributed to meat packing companies in Detroit and Indianapolis and to Wal-Mart operations in Indiana, Pennsylvania and Wyoming, National Beef said.
At Kroger, the nation's largest traditional grocery store chain, the recalled products include ground chuck, ground beef patties, and meatballs and meat loaf made in the stores. Packages have "sell by" dates of July 29 through Aug. 12. At Publix, the products include meatballs, meat loaf, ground chuck patties, stuffed peppers, seasoned salisbury steak and others with "sell by" dates of July 25 through Aug. 12. Winn-Dixie products include ground chuck and patties with "sell-by" label dates from July 31 to Aug. 12.
The companies said people should return the beef to their stores for a full refund.