Top US organic foods supermarket chain, Whole Foods Market, has issued a voluntary recall of fresh ground beef it sold since June 2 due to fears of potential contamination with E. coli bacteria.
The recall affects ground beef sold by Whole Foods between June 2 and August 6 in several US states, after seven cases of E. coli infection in Massachusetts and two in Pennsylvania were linked to the product, the company said in a website statement.
The beef "apparently came from Coleman Natural Beef, whose Nebraska Beef processing plant was previously subject to a nationwide recall for E. coli 0157:H7 contamination," Whole Foods said.
This second batch of potentially E. coli-tainted ground beef from Nebraska Beef involves relatively modest quantities purchased by Whole Foods Market, a spokesman for the supermarket chain told AFP without providing a weight estimate.
Nebraska Beef on Friday recalled 544 tonnes of meat products it produced in June and July, some of which was possibly purchased by Whole Foods Market.
Whole Foods has begun an internal investigation after receiving "assurances from Coleman Natural Beef that no product delivered to Whole Foods Market was linked to the (previous) recall" of Nebraska Beef products, company spokeswoman Libba Letton said.
She stressed that all tests conducted with the recalled Whole Foods ground beef so far have not detected any E. coli infection.
E. coli bacteria can produce nausea, diarrhea and potentially lethal kidney problems, particularly threatening people with weak immune systems such as the elderly and babies.
In the United States, an estimated 73,000 cases of E. coli infection occur each year, with around 60 of those ending in death, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.