Food Lion says some meat it sold might be contaminated with E. coli bacteria

Food Lion - which has the largest number of stores in the Midlands - is asking customers to return some ground beef because the chain received shipments that are part of a nationwide E. coli recall.

Some of the Midlands' other major grocers - Wal-Mart, Piggly Wiggly, Bi-Lo and Publix - said they do not carry the tainted meat.

Food Lion, which has 24 Midlands stores, asked on its Web site that customers in South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia return any 93/7 ground beef with a sell-by date from Sept. 21-Oct. 8 to stores for refund.

This is the second major ground beef recall to reach South Carolina in five months.

Around July Fourth, some Save-A-Lot, Food Lion and Bi-Lo stores asked customers to return possibly E. coli tainted ground beef recalled by JBS Swift Beef Co. of Colorado.

In the latest recall, at least 28 people in a dozen states appear to have been sickened after eating beef from Fairbank Farms of Ashville, N.Y., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported.

All but three of the cases are in the Northeast. None has been reported in the Southeast.

The latest E. coli outbreak has killed two people, one from New York and another from New Hampshire, and sent 16 others to hospitals, federal officials said.

Fairbank Farms recalled almost 546,000 pounds of fresh ground beef that had been distributed in September. The U.S. Department of Agriculture's recall notice, dated Saturday, said the possibly tainted meat had been sold in numerous ways, from meatloaf and meatball mix to hamburger patties.

Some of the ground beef, packaged in wholesale-sized containers under the Fairbank Farms name, was distributed to stores in the Southeast. That meat was likely repackaged for sale and would likely have differing package and sell-by dates.

The USDA was urging customers with concerns to contact the stores where they bought the meat. Ron Allen, Fairbank's CEO, urged consumers to check their freezers for the recalled ground beef.

Kidney failure is found in the most severe cases of E. coli. In less serious cases, the potentially deadly bacterium can cause bloody diarrhea and dehydration.

Symptoms of E. coli infections usually show up three to four days after a person eats contaminated food, although in some cases it can be as long as eight days. Officials said anyone having symptoms should immediately contact a doctor.

After dropping for a few years, annual recalls of ground beef and other beef products contaminated with E. coli have rebounded, with at least a dozen recalls through October, according to USDA data.