IBP is voluntarily recalling 265,927 pounds of ground beef produced on May 13, 2000, at its Geneseo, Illinois, plant. A product sample analyzed in distribution by USDA was found to contain E. coli O157:H7.

There have been no illnesses associated with this product. It should also be stressed there is no danger to consumers as long as this, or any other ground beef product, is properly handled and cooked to an internal temperature of 160 degrees.

The recall involves only unopened vacuum-packaged tubes or "chubs" of ground beef. It does not include any IBP prepackaged fresh or frozen beef patties. Affected product was sold to wholesalers, distributors and a small number of retailers. Since the product was produced on May 13, and has an 18 day shelf life, it is likely that very little of the product remains in the marketplace. However, in an abundance of caution, IBP is conducting this voluntary recall. Any ground beef that is not in the original package described above cannot be identified, therefore, any concerned consumer may want to ask at the store where they buy their ground beef if it received any of the recalled product.

The wholesalers, distributors and retailers that received the affected ground beef are being contacted by IBP and asked to return any remaining product that is in storage. They are located in: Kansas, Texas, Minnesota, Maine, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Arkansas, South Carolina, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Indiana, Wisconsin, Tennessee, Maryland, Oklahoma, Nebraska, New York, Virginia, North Carolina, Alabama, Ohio, Illinois and Mississippi.

They are being asked to look for the following code information:

Box code: 245J00134
Clear package code: EST 245J
134 00A or 134 00B
#93 GR Beef or #81 GR Beef or #75 GR Beef or
#73 GR Beef or #81 Chuck or #86 Round or
Sirloin

About 8% of the affected product was sold in a generic retail tube package, labeled as "Ground Beef (27% fat)." The following product code information appears on the seam of the individual package:

EST 245J
SELL/FREEZE BY
May 31 A

IBP officials continually review production procedures used at all plants, including the company's Geneseo complex. The beef production facility, as well as IBP's other fresh meat operations, use the principles of HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points). This science based system focuses on key areas of the meat production process that must be controlled in order to prevent food safety problems.

IBP and the meat industry continue to aggressively research ways to further enhance food safety efforts from "farm to table." IBP's food safety assurance systems include such things as pre-operative sanitation, steam vacuums, steam pasteurization, organic acid rinses, carcass production audits, numerous temperature audits, employee training, packaging system audits and temperature verification on shipping trailers.

Food safety and product quality are essential cornerstones of IBP. Company officials indicate they have long realized we cannot be successful without excellence in these areas. IBP has committed in excess of $100 million in capital expenditures and increased operating costs over the past five years - specifically to the cause of improved food safety and quality in our fresh meat plants. This commitment has included the development of a food safety process for beef called "Triple Clean." This system involves a series of processes that are strategically applied to each beef carcass. These processes include the use of steam vacuums; carcass wash and organic acid rinse systems; and finally the revolutionary steam pasteurization cabinet.

IBP will also soon begin test-marketing electronically pasteurized (or irradiated) ground beef patties. This process, which kills bacteria such as E. coli O157:H7, will provide another layer or protection from foodborne bacteria.

More than 700 employees are dedicated exclusively to food safety and quality at IBP's fresh meat plants. This includes 40 employees at Geneseo. The plant also has 20 full-time USDA inspectors. IBP operates 12 approved and accredited laboratories to provide rapid, up-to-date chemical and microbiological analysis. IBP's quality assurance programs have been developed to make sure product specifications and food safety procedures are followed at all levels of production and distribution.

Consumers are reminded that thorough cooking kills harmful bacteria, including E. coli 0157:H7. According to USDA, consumers should only eat ground beef that has been cooked to a safe temperature of 160 degrees. When a ground beef patty is cooked to 160 degrees throughout, it can be safe and juicy, regardless of color.

Customers and reporters seeking more information about the recall can visit the IBP web site at www.ibpinc.com or call our toll-free recall response number of 1-877-388-5184 between 7:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. Monday - Friday.