Whole Foods Market Voluntarily Recalls Fresh Ground Beef

August 8, 2008

Multi-State Recall in Response to State, Federal Investigations of E. coli Outbreak

Today, Whole Foods Market announced a voluntary multi-state recall of the fresh ground beef it has sold between June 2 and August 6, 2008 because of a concern that it may be contaminated with E. coli 0157:H7 bacteria. Whole Foods Market is informed that the beef in question apparently came from Coleman Natural Beef whose Nebraska Beef processing plant was previously subject to a nationwide recall for E. coli 0157:H7 contamination. At the time of the previous recall, Whole Foods Market received assurances from Coleman Natural Beef that no product delivered to Whole Foods Market was linked to the recall. Those assurances are now in question and Whole Foods Market is actively investigating the issue. At this time, no Coleman Natural Beef fresh ground beef products from the Nebraska Beef processing facility are available in any Whole Foods Market stores.

"While Coleman Natural Beef is a relatively small supplier for Whole Foods Market, we are extremely disappointed that we must now question Coleman's assurances," said Edmund Lamacchia, global vice president of procurement.

Neither Coleman Natural Beef or Nebraska Beef are owned or operated by Whole Foods Market.

At this time, although the illnesses allegedly linked to Whole Foods Market are in Massachusetts and Pennsylvania, it is broadening the voluntary recall to the following states out of an abundance of caution: Connecticut, Rhode Island, Maine, Massachusetts, Florida, New Jersey, New York, Kentucky, Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Washington D. C., Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Wisconsin and Canada.

The recalls come as a result of investigations into confirmed cases of E. coli 0157:H7 contamination in Virginia, Ohio, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania. The investigations include supermarkets Dorothy Lane and Kroger, as well as beef suppliers and processors such as Coleman Natural Beef and Nebraska Beef, and are still ongoing as state and federal agencies work to determine the source of the outbreak. As a precaution, on Wednesday, August 6, 2008, Whole Foods Market voluntarily pulled shipments of beef from this vendor from its stores nationwide.

Whole Foods Market asks customers who may have ground beef purchased during these dates (including in the freezer) to dispose of the product and return to the store with the packaging or receipt for a full refund.

"At Whole Foods Market, one of our top priorities is consumer safety, and we go to great lengths to ensure the safety and quality of our meats," said Lamacchia. "We are currently cooperating with the USDA, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and the Montgomery County Health Department in Pennsylvania as part of a routine multi-state investigation into these confirmed cases of E. coli 0157:H7 infection."

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health issued warnings about the targeted beef. Whole Foods Market will continue to work with state and federal authorities as this investigation progresses, and looks forward to providing its customers with the high quality products that they have come to expect.