October 6, 2007 / 5:15 AM / 12 years ago

Topps Meat goes out of business after recall

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Topps Meat Co LLC announced on Friday it was going out of business, crushed by the recall of 21.7 million pounds of beef linked to 30 cases of E. coli-related illness.

“In one week we have gone from the largest U.S. manufacturer of frozen hamburgers to a company that cannot overcome the economic reality of a recall this large,” Anthony D’Urso, chief operating officer, said in a statement.

It was the fifth-largest meat or poultry recall in U.S. history, the Agriculture Department said. But no deaths have been reported due to the outbreak of E. coli 0157:H7, which can cause diarrhea and dehydration.

The government, which has been criticized for moving slowly on the recall last month, has pledged to step up its oversight of U.S. beef plants and respond more quickly in the future.

In its statement, Topps said a “small number” of employees would continue work at a plant in Elizabeth, New Jersey, in part to assist USDA in an investigation.

“This has been a shocking and sobering experience for everyone,” D’Urso said.

Jim Robb, an economist at the Livestock Marketing Information Center, said he did not expect any long-term consumer reaction to the large recall or a major movement in commodity markets.

“But, every time you lose a processor, it has some reverberations,” he said.

Reporting by Brad Dorfman and Bob Burgdorfer in Chicago and Missy Ryan in Washington

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