SEBRING – It was only one box of possibly contaminated meat mistakenly sent to a local fish and meat market, and it’s already off the hook and out of the store.
May 21, the United States Department of Agriculture Food and Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) reported stores in nine states -- including one in Highlands County -- may have received beef contaminated with the E. coli bacteria.
The report stated the Surf N Turf Market, 6408 S. U.S. 27, had received a box of beef patties that were recalled by the Wolverine Packing Co. based in Detroit, Mich.
Surf N Turf owner Hilda Hernandez said Thursday the store only sells buffalo patties, not beef, and the box was mistakenly shipped to the shop by food distributor Cheney Brothers out of Ocala. The box of 64, four-ounce ground beef patties was received at the store April 18 and Hernandez’s husband and store associate Ray Hernandez confirmed with a receipt the order was immediately returned.
CNN News network has since aired a report on the recall.
“I’ve had customers who heard the report. I told them ‘I don’t sell that here’ and I started calling our attorney,” said Ray, who reopened the store under the same name in January 2013. “It’s gone; it was sent by error. We’ve had no problems here since we opened.”
In addition to the Sebring location, other stores with recalled beef include: Gordon Food Service Marketplace in Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Wisconsin; Giorgio’s Italian Delicatessen, Stuart; M Sixty Six General Store, Orleans, Mich.; and Buchtel Food Mart, Buchtel, Ohio.
In total, about 1.8 million pounds of ground beef products that may have been contaminated is being recalled.
The beef products were produced between March 31 and April 18, according to the FSIS Monday.
The FSIS stated that based on epidemiological investigations, 11 case-patients were identified in four states with the illness onset from April 22 to May 2.
The disease can cause dehydration, bloody diarrhea and abdominal cramps within two to eight days of exposure.
Fortunately for Highlands County residents, the Hernandezes said they spotted the possibly contaminated product as soon as it was received at the store and immediately got rid of it.
“We want our customers to know it’s gone,” said Ray.
The FSIS posts retail distribution lists of recalled products at www.fsis.usda.gov/recalls.
“FSIS routinely conducts recall effectiveness checks to verify recalling firms notify their customers of the recall and that steps are taken to make certain that the proudct is no longer available to consumers,” Lauren Kotwicki, USDA congressional and public affairs spokeswoman, said in a written statement.