U.S. unit of Brazil’s JBS recalls beef on salmonella risk

CHICAGO/SAO PAULO (Reuters) – A U.S. unit of Brazil’s JBS SA is recalling 6.5 million pounds of beef products processed through an Arizona plant because the meat might be contaminated with salmonella, U.S. government officials said on Thursday.

FILE PHOTO: Under a very high magnification of 12000X, this colorized scanning electron micrograph shows a large grouping of Gram-negative Salmonella bacteria. REUTERS/Janice Haney Carr/CDC/Handout

U.S. investigators have identified at least 57 people in 16 states who have become ill due to consuming contaminated ground beef products made from meat traced back to JBS, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said.

JBS shares fell as much as 5 percent to around 8.80 reais on the Sao Paulo Stock Exchange.

JBS Tolleson Inc, part of JBS USA, the U.S. arm of the world’s largest meatpacking company, was voluntarily pulling ground beef and other raw beef products that had been shipped to stores across the country, USDA said.

Salmonella can cause fever, diarrhea and abdominal pain, and can be fatal to young children, the elderly and people with compromised immune systems.

Hundreds of beef products are part of the recall, including products sold under the Walmart brand. The products were packaged from July 26 to Sept. 7. The full list released by USDA can be found here: bit.ly/2y0txS3

“We are working in close partnership with USDA to make sure all potentially impacted product is removed from stores and homes,” JBS said in a statement.

This is the second time JBS USA has recalled beef products this year.

In May, the company recalled almost 35,500 pounds of raw ground beef processed through its Lenoir, North Carolina, plant after a consumer found bits of blue hard plastic in the meat, which JBS had produced for grocery chain Kroger Co, according to USDA.

It is also the second major meat recall in recent weeks by a top U.S. beef processor. In September, Cargill Inc’s meat division recalled about 132,606 pounds of ground beef shipped in the United States due to possible Escherichia coli (E. coli) O26 contamination.

Federal and state investigators found that Cargill’s ground beef products were the probable source of the death of one person and 17 people who fell ill due to raw ground beef, according to USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service.

Reporting by Ana Mano in Sao Paolo and P.J. Huffstutter in Chicago; editing by Christian Plumb and Leslie Adler

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