E. coli illnesses linked to recalled product

by Bryan Salvage
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WASHINGTON – Palmyra Bologna Company Inc., Palmyra, Pa., is recalling approximately 23,000 lbs. of deli-sliced and packaged Seltzer’s Regular Beef Lebanon Bologna brand products produced in December 2010 that may be contaminated with E. coli O157:H7, the US Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service announced earlier this week. This limited voluntary recall does not include any Seltzer’s Lebanon Bologna produced since Dec. 31, 2010.

On March 10, FSIS said it was notified of an investigation of E.coli O157:H7 illnesses. Four case-patients in New Jersey, North Carolina and Pennsylvania were first identified with illness onset dates between Jan. 28, 2011 and Feb. 12, 2011 due to work being done in conjunction with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and state public health partners. FSIS determined there is a link between the Lebanon bologna products and the illnesses in these states, as a result of the epidemiologic investigation.

Most recently, a total of 14 E. coli illnesses have been publicized in various reports, but the company says the other illnesses should not be linked to its product.

“When the FSIS references 14 people, they’re talking about all people in the identified states who were diagnosed with E. coli from Jan. 10 and Feb. 15, 2011,” a spokeswoman told MEATPOULTRY.com. “Only four of those cases could potentially be connected with Seltzer’s Regular Beef Lebanon Bologna because they bought the product at some point between Jan. 28, 2011 and Feb. 12, 2011 at their local retail store and it was documented through their rewards card. This was the only possible link between the illness and Seltzer’s. There was no product tested, so the connection is not strong.”

Seltzer’s said as part of its regular reporting to FSIS, its Lebanon Bologna products and food contact surfaces were tested the weeks and months before, during and after the production of the product in question, and no trace of E. coli contamination or other pathogens were found in the finished product. The company believes the product in question – most of which is sliced at a grocers deli counter – is no longer in stores, however, it has asked retail locations to check their inventory and discard any product with the two matching lot numbers if it remains in stock.

“As a third-generation, family owned business, nothing is more important to us than our loyal customers who have helped us stay in business for over 100 years,” said Craig Seltzer, president of Seltzer’s Lebanon Bologna. “So even though none of our bologna tested positive for pathogens and we believe most of the bologna from those lots was consumed weeks or months ago, I thought it was important to take this action and initiate a voluntary recall.”
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