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NEWARK, N.J. -- New Jersey attorney general Anne Milgram is advising state attorneys general throughout the United States to increase inspections of stores for recalled frozen ground beef, as investigators from the Division of Consumer Affairs and Department of Health and Senior Services continue to find such products for sale in New Jersey.
Investigators, working with state, county, and municipal health inspectors, found Topps Meat Co. frozen ground beef still being sold at 12 retailers after the product had been recalled because of potential E. coli contamination.
Inspectors found a total of 141 boxes of recalled products still for sale at the 12 stores. According to the investigators, the retailers bought the products from Greater New York Frozen Food Distribution Co., Inc. of Queens, N.Y.; Associated Group Grocers of Jamaica, N.Y.; Burris Foods, Inc. of Milford, Del.; or Jetro Cash and Carry of Jersey City, N.J.
On Nov. 1 Progressive Grocer reported that recalled Topps products had been discovered for sale in seven small grocery stores in New Jersey's Hudson County.
The Division of Consumer Affairs has issued subpoenas to Burris Foods, Inc.; Jetro Cash and Carry; and Greater New York Frozen Food Distribution Co. Inc., seeking information on the retailers that bought Topps items from them, as well as the wholesalers' efforts to tell their customers about the recall.
"What began with the discovery of recalled hamburgers being for sale at a single store has escalated into a statewide public health issue, and, potentially, a national issue as well," said Milgram in a statement. "It is unacceptable that consumers can walk into a store and find these recalled contaminated products on the shelf, readily available for purchase and consumption, more than one month after the voluntary recall was announced."
Milgram added that greater public notice and outreach to retailers and consumers are necessary in the wake the inspection results in her state.
The Division of Consumer Affairs and Department of Health and Senior Services has launched a joint task force to conduct store inspections and to keep the public informed.
"Our investigators are continuing to check stores for these products in coordination with health inspectors," noted acting consumer affairs director Larry DeMarzo. "Although the recall was announced in September, this is not old news. Both retailers and consumers must be vigilant and check their freezers for these recalled items."
Elizabeth, N.J.-based Topps, which has since gone out of business, issued a historically large recall of 21.7 million pounds of ground beef products following outbreaks of E. coli infection in several states. The USDA later determined that the source of the contamination was likely beef trim from Ranchers Beef, Ltd. in Canada.