ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Contaminated fresh ground beef caused a possible E. coli outbreak that killed two people and sent 16 others to hospitals, federal health officials said Monday.
Twenty-eight people may have become ill after eating beef produced by Fairbank Farms of Ashville, N.Y., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. All but three of the suspected infections are in the northeastern U.S., said CDC spokeswoman Lola Scott Russell.
Fairbank Farms recalled almost 546,000 pounds of fresh ground beef that had been distributed in September to stores from North Carolina to Maine. The U.S. Department of Agriculture's recall notice, dated Saturday, said the possibly tainted meat had been sold in numerous ways, from meatloaf and meatball mix to hamburger patties.
Some of the ground beef was sold at Trader Joe's, Price Chopper, Lancaster, Wild Harvest, Shaw's, BJ's, Ford Brothers and Giant stores in packages that carried the number "EST. 492" on the label. Those products may have been labeled with a sell-by date from Sept. 19 through Sept. 28, meaning they're no longer being sold as fresh product in supermarkets, Fairbank Farms said.
The rest of the ground beef, packaged in wholesale-sized containers under the Fairbank Farms name, was distributed to stores in Maryland, Massachusetts, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Virginia. That meat was likely repackaged for sale and would likely have differing package and sell-by dates.