The US subsidiary of Brazilian meat giant JBS is recalling more than 5m kg of raw beef that may be contaminated with salmonella, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced.
JBS Tolleson Inc, which is based in Arizona, is at the centre of a probe into 246 cases of salmonella in 25 states that were reported between 5 August and 16 October this year.
Although 59 people have required hospital treatment, no deaths have been reported.
The company recalled 3.1m kg of meat in October, when the outbreak was first detected.
Raw ground beef was the “probable source of the reported illnesses” with “JBS as the common supplier of the ground beef products”, according to the USDA.
“The raw, non-intact beef items, including ground beef, were packaged on various dates from 26 July 2018 to 7 Sept 2018.”
And the products being recalled have the number “EST. 267” inside the USDA mark of inspection.
Now, with further cases having been reported, linked to other ground beef products that were not part of the first recall, JBS Tolleson is recalling an additional 2.3m kg of meat.
Announcing the move the USDA stated: “Specific traceback for three case-patients have identified JBS Tolleson EST. 267 ground beef products that were not part of the 4 October 2018 recall.”
It said that while all the potentially tainted products have been removed from retailers, consumers might have products in their freezers that should be thrown away.
In a statement posted on its website JBS Tolleson said: “While no products in this expansion have been definitively linked to any illness, we have determined in consultation with USDA’s Food
Safety and Inspection Service that this action is in the best interests of public health.”
This is the latest controversy to engulf JBS, which was embroiled in an international scandal over contaminated meat last year which resulted in a number of countries placing restrictions on meat imports from Brazil.
Police had targeted plants belonging to meat companies BRF, JBS and Grupo Peccin in response to allegations that corrupt officials had allowed rancid products to be exported overseas.
More than 100 food inspectors and officials were accused of accepting bribes in exchange for overlooking unsanitary factory conditions and potentially contaminated meat and falsifying export documents.
Brazilian federal prosecutors heading the investigation alleged that some meat products were adulterated with cardboard and in some cases acid was used to mask the smell of tainted meat.
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