* CDC says total of 28 cases, 16 hospitalizations
* All but three cases are in U.S. Northeast
* Illness connected to recall of Fairbank Farms beef
(CDC describes scope of outbreak; paragraphs 1-3, 6, 9 new)
WASHINGTON, Nov 2 An outbreak of food-borne
illness, linked to dangerous bacteria in ground beef, sickened
28 people and caused at least one death, the U.S. Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention said on Monday.
The CDC said a New York adult with underlying medical
conditions had died and another possibly related death in New
Hampshire was under investigation. State officials attribute
the New Hampshire death to the O157:H7 E. coli bacteria.
All but three of the 28 cases listed by the CDC were in the
U.S. Northeast and 18 were in the New England states. Sixteen
hospitalizations were reported, said a CDC spokeswoman. The
bacteria involved were from a common strain, so tests were
under way to see if all of the reported cases were related.
Over the weekend, Fairbank Farms of Ashville, New York,
recalled 545,699 lbs (248,450 kg) of ground beef products.
The Agriculture Department, which oversees meat safety,
said an investigation led it to conclude "there is an
association between the fresh ground beef products and
illnesses in Connecticut, Maine and Massachusetts." USDA worked
with state and federal officials in examining a cluster of E.
coli O157:H7 illnesses.
A potentially deadly bacteria, E. coli can cause bloody
diarrhea, dehydration and, in severe cases, kidney failure. The
very young, the elderly and people with weak immune systems are
the most susceptible to foodborne illness.
A string of food-borne safety scares led the U.S. House of
Representatives to pass legislation this summer to require more
inspections and oversight of food manufacturers and would give
the government new authority to order recalls.
Fairbank Farms announced the recall on Saturday. The beef
was produced in mid-September and probably was labeled for sale
before the end of the month, said USDA.
It went to retailers including Trader Joe's, Price Chopper,
Lancaster and Wild Harvest, Shaw's, a unit of Supervalu
(SVU.N), BJ's BJ.N, Ford Brothers and Giant, a unit of Ahold
AHLN.AS, in eight states -- Connecticut, Maryland,
Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina,
Pennsylvania and Virginia.
A complete list of products is available at:
The beef was produced Sept. 14 to 16, and the company urged
consumers to check their freezers for products listed in the
recall. Labels of the recalled packages will say EST 492 inside
the USDA seal.
(Reporting by Charles Abbott; Editing by Walter Bagley)