|Food Safety and Inspection
United States Department of Agriculture
Washington, D.C. 20250-3700
HEALTH RISK: HIGH
and Public Affairs
WASHINGTON, Oct. 12, 2002– Pilgrim’s Pride Corporation, doing business as Wampler Foods Inc., a Franconia, Pa., establishment, is voluntarily recalling approximately 27.4 million pounds of fresh and frozen ready-to-eat turkey and chicken products that may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service announced today.
The products were produced between May 1 and Oct. 11. In addition, the establishment has voluntarily suspended operations.
The turkey and chicken products were distributed to retail stores, restaurants and institutions nationwide.
"We want consumers to be aware of the recall because of the potential for foodborne illness," said Dr. Garry L. McKee, FSIS administrator. "Diners may also wish to ask if their meals contain the recalled products."
Today’s recall, an expansion of the Oct. 9 recall of 295,000 pounds of turkey and chicken products, is the result of FSIS’ continuing scientific investigation into the cause of illnesses, deaths and miscarriages in the Northeast from Listeria monocytogenes.
The Oct. 9 recall was prompted by a product sample taken by FSIS at the facility that tested positive for Listeria monocytogenes. The strain found in the product does not match the strain common to illness victims. FSIS continued its investigation by taking additional product samples, as well as a large number of environmental samples from multiple locations in the plant.
Results of the product sampling from various days of production were all negative. However, environmental sampling demonstrated the presence in the plant of the Listeria monocytogenes strain matching the Oct. 9 recalled product.
FSIS has been working continuously since early September with other federal and state public health agencies in an attempt to discover the source of Listeria monocytogenes illnesses in the Northeast.
As part of that effort, FSIS’ Microbial Outbreaks and Special Projects Branch (MOSPB) laboratory in Athens, Ga., has conducted more than 400 tests on products that the agency regulates. The environmental samples were analyzed at the FSIS field lab in St. Louis, Mo.
In addition, more than 50 scientists at FSIS’ laboratories, regional epidemiologists, consumer safety officers, compliance officers and personnel in the field and at USDA headquarters have been dedicated to the investigation.
While the investigation into Listeria monocytogenes illnesses continues, Dr. McKee commended the agencies that have participated thus far in the effort, saying that their cooperation has helped FSIS greatly.
"While I am very proud of our scientists and investigators for their skill and dogged determination, I am also heartened by the degree of cooperation FSIS has received from other public health agencies," Dr. McKee said. "This investigation can be held up as a model for how agencies should act in concert with one another to protect public health."
Consumption of food contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes can cause listeriosis, an uncommon but potentially fatal disease. Healthy people rarely contract listeriosis. Listeriosis can cause high fever, severe headache, neck stiffness and nausea. Listeriosis can also cause miscarriages and stillbirths, as well as serious and sometimes fatal infections in those with weak immune systems – infants, the frail or elderly and persons with chronic disease, HIV infection, or taking chemotherapy.
Anyone concerned about an illness should contact a physician.
Consumers with questions about the recall may contact the company’s consumer information recall hotline at (877) 260-7110. Media with questions about the recall may contact Ray Atkinson, public relations manager, Pilgrim's Pride Corporation, at (540) 896-0406.
Consumers with other food safety questions can phone the toll-free USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-800-535-4555. The hotline is available in English and Spanish and can be reached from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Eastern Time), Monday through Friday. Recorded food safety messages are available 24 hours a day.
The brand names of the recalled products are attached. All of the products bear the establishment code "P-1351" inside the USDA mark of inspection unless otherwise noted.
NOTE: Access news releases and other information at the FSIS Web site at http://www.fsis.usda.gov
USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline
Reheat until steaming hot the following types of ready-to-eat foods: hot dogs, luncheon meats, cold cuts, fermented and dry sausage, and other deli-style meat and poultry products. Thoroughly reheating food can help kill any bacteria that might be present. If you cannot reheat these foods, do not eat them.
Wash hands with hot, soapy water after handling these types of ready-to-eat foods. (Wash for at least 20 seconds.) Also wash cutting boards, dishes, and utensils. Thorough washing helps eliminate any bacteria that might get on your hands or other surfaces from food before it is reheated.
Do not eat soft cheeses such as feta, Brie, Camembert, blue-veined or Mexican-style cheese. You can eat hard cheeses, processed cheeses, cream cheese, cottage cheese, and yogurt.
Do not drink raw, unpasteurized milk or eat foods made from it, such as unpasteurized cheese.
Observe all expiration dates for perishable items that are precooked or ready-to-eat.
USDA RECALL CLASSIFICATIONS
Class I This is a health hazard situation where there is a reasonable probability that the use of the product will cause serious, adverse health consequences or death.
Class II This is a health hazard situation where there is a remote probability of adverse health consequences from the use of the product.
Class III This is a situation where the use of the product will not cause adverse health consequences.
For Further Information, Contact:
Consumers: Meat and Poultry Hotline, 1-800-535-4555 (voice); 1-800-256-7072 (TTY)
Media: (202) 720-9113
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