The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced that Fairbank Farms is voluntarily recalling 320,000 pounds of fresh ground beef products that may be contaminated with the E. coli bacteria.

The Ashville, New York-based company is recalling projects with the establishment code "EST.492" inside the USDA inspection mark. They have been distributed through retail channels throughout the US.

Giant Food, a US subsidiary of Dutch retail behemoth Royal Ahold, is among the retailers recalling the Fairbank Farms beef it has sold since 5 November, reported the Washington Post yesterday [Sunday].

"Consumers need to be aware of this recall," said Dr Garry McKee, administrator of the department's Food Safety and Inspection Service. He urged consumers of ground beef to ask their grocers if they carried the recalled product and to check their refrigerators and freezers. If consumers were in possession of the recalled product, they should return it to the point of purchase, McKee said in a statement.

As yet, the USDA has received no reports of illness.

The problem was discovered through microbiological sampling that traced the bacteria back to the product, reported Reuters.