Local Safeway not impacted by E. coli outbreak

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As state health officials continue to investigate an outbreak of E. coli that is directly linked to ground beef purchased from Colorado Safeway food stores, it appears Craig will not be affected.

"None of our records show that any of that ground beef made it to our store," said Dennis Falloon, manager of Craig's Safeway Food and Drug.

To date, 12 cases of E. coli 0157:H7 have been confirmed in nine Colorado counties.

Thus far, those counties include Arapahoe County, Boulder County, the city and county of Broomfield, Douglas County, El Paso County, Gunnison County, Jefferson County and Park County.

In the past eight days, two national recalls were announced by beef distributors and the United States Department of Agriculture after E. coli strain was positively identified in samples of ground beef.

Information provided by the Department of Public Health and Environment states that Greeley's ConAgra, which distributes beef products to Safeway stores in Colorado and Wyoming, is included in one of the recalls.

The beef in question was also distributed to three South Dakota Safeway stores.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment's Consumer Protection Division is warning consumers not to use any ground beef that was purchased at a Colorado Safeway store with a "Sell By Date" label of June 7, 2002, through June 18, 2002.

According to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, the potentially contaminated ground beef was distributed in two types of foam packaging. A product label will state "80% Lean Ground Beef 20% Fat" for ground beef in white Styrofoam trays, and "80% LEAN GRBF 20% FAT Valu Pk" for ground beef in yellow Styrofoam trays.

Safeway expanded the recall Thursday to include all ground beef products with "Sell By Date" labels of June 7, 2002, through June 28, 2002. This recall includes 73 percent ground beef, 80 percent ground beef, 90 percent ground beef, 93 percent ground beef and ground sirloin packaged in either white or yellow foam trays.

In a statement released by Safeway, spokesman Jeff Stroh said the additional step was taken to ensure the company addressed all the ConAgra products, including "potential interaction between the ConAgra ground beef and any other ground beef product we may have processed during this time period."

Safeway said the recall does not apply to any of the ground beef currently for sale in its stores.

Safeway has suspended purchases of ground beef products from ConAgra.

"Safeway as a company is very concerned and is doing everything it can to cooperate with the health department," Falloon said.

Falloon said harmful bacteria are usually eliminated if ground beef is thoroughly cooked.

"As long as it's cooked at 155 degrees and up, the bacteria will be killed," Falloon said. "It is kind of like chicken with salmonella, if its not cooked enough."

The state's Department of Public Health and Environment's Disease Control and Environmental Epidemiology Division is currently investigating samples of the potentially contaminated beef.

Epidemiologists have yet to identify an absolute link to the cause of the outbreak. However, a common factor in each of the cases is all of the people who became ill had consumed ground beef.

The Environmental Epidemiology Division said a final conclusion regarding the actual E. coli source could not be reached until additional testing is complete.

E. coli 0157:H7 can cause bloody diarrhea and severe abdominal cramps. Cases could result in the development of Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome, which usually requires hospitalization. The elderly and children are particularly vulnerable.

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