Smith’s store responds to recall

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By The Staff

Employees at the Smith’s Food and Drug Store in Los Alamos were prepared for questions from the public Wednesday about the expanded recall of a suspected beef item.

They said customers had asked about the situation and that the store had readily accepted returns of about 20 pounds of meat.

In response to a customer’s question, a checker stopped the line and guided the questioner to the meat department. The meat manager readily shared his information, standing under posted recall notices from the company’s headquarters in Salt Lake City.

On Tuesday, Smith’s revised an initial recall to include packages weighing two pounds or more of store-brand labeled beef grind 85/15 with sell-by dates of April 27, 2009, to June 1, 2009, because the beef was supplied by JBS Swift Beef Co., which has been identified as the apparent source of products that may be contaminated with a strain of E. coli bacteria.

JBS Swift Beef Co. recalled 41,000 pounds of beef on June 24, but that was expanded to 380,000 pounds four days later.

Although Smith’s was not aware of any illnesses at the time of the expanded recall, the Associated Press Wednesday reported that at least 12 people had been hospitalized by sickness related to the suspect beef.

On Thursday the CDC reported 23 persons infected with a particular E. Coli “DNA fingerprint” in 9 states, including one in New Mexico.

Most of the ill people reported having consumed ground beef and many reported that it was undercooked.

According to the CDC the first sign of the illness was on April 2, 2009 and the most recent was June 15. No deaths have been reported.

Smith’s, which has 26 stores in New Mexico, said the recalled beef items included beef products in foam tray packages wrapped in clear cellophane and purchased at Smtih’s in-store fresh meat cases.

Customers are asked to check for the following codes:

• 0021165400000

• 0021654100000

• 021654200000

• 021654300000

No sicknesses have been reported locally.

The CDC reminds consumers to eat ground beef or ground beef patties that have been cooked to a safe internal temperature of 160 degrees F.

The Associate Press contributed to this story.