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Meat taken off local shelves

October 15, 2002|by ANDREA ROWLAND

Grocery and deli workers at large and small stores throughout the Tri-State area pulled processed meat products from shelves Monday in response to the largest meat recall in U.S. history.

Poultry processor Pilgrim's Pride is recalling more than 27 million pounds of cooked sandwich meat sold under the company's Wampler Foods brand after warnings of possible contamination from the potentially fatal listeria bacteria.

The company recalled 295,000 pounds of turkey and chicken products from a suburban Philadelphia plant last Wednesday, but expanded the recall over the weekend after tests came back positive for a strain of the bacteria, company officials said Sunday.


Each package being recalled bears the plant number P-1351 inside the USDA mark of inspection.

"The delivery man came in with some of that meat this morning and I told him to turn around and take it right back out," Mike Crowell, assistant manager of Crowell's Village Store in Martinsburg, W.Va., said Monday.

Crowell said he also pulled about eight pounds of Wampler turkey breast from store shelves after learning about the recall earlier in the day.

Likewise, an employee at Bedington Cross-Roads Convenience Store said she planned to remove Wampler turkey from the Eastern Panhandle store's deli after she heard that the meat had been recalled.

George Rowe, manager of Ernst Country Market in Clear Spring, said he pulled between 40 and 50 pounds of the recalled turkey breast from his deli early Monday. Monte Jones of Byers Market in Williamsport removed about 80 pounds of the meat on Monday, he said.

Battleview Market in Sharpsburg couldn't offer any turkey subs or sandwiches to customers after removing about 30 pounds of the recalled meat - the only brand of turkey in stock at the store - early Monday, manager Peggy Myers said.

"We already had a lady leave because she couldn't get her turkey sandwich," Myers said.

Employees at Sunnyway Food Market cleared recalled turkey from the Greencastle, Pa., store's shelves Monday morning, owner Margaret Martin said.

A number of Wampler products have been cleared from deli cases at Martins' Food Markets and Weis Markets in the Tri-State area, spokesmen for the companies said Monday.

As a precaution, Martin's deli employees removed all Wampler turkey pastrami, turkey salami, turkey ham and chicken roll products last Thursday, said Denny Hopkins, spokesman for parent company Giant Foods.

Martin's Food Stores did not receive any "contaminated" products but wanted to err on the side of caution, Hopkins said.

Similarly, workers at Weis Markets pulled Wampler Foods Lean and Lite Turkey Breast and Smoked Turkey Breast products from deli shelves last Thursday, and removed the company's turkey pastrami, Three-Diamond Turkey Breast and chicken roll products from shelves Monday after receiving word of the expanded recall, Corporate Spokesman Dennis Curtin said.

He stressed that the actions were precautionary.

"There are no reported incidents of people getting sick from these products," Curtin said.

Listeria can cause high fever, severe headache, neck stiffness and nausea. It can cause miscarriages and stillbirths, and be fatal in young children, the elderly and people with weak immune systems, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The genetic strain that caused a listeria outbreak in eight Northeast states - resulting in at least 120 illnesses and 20 deaths since early summer - is different than the strain found at the Pennsylvania plant, Wampler officials said.

Scientific evidence gathered so far doesn't prove a connection between the plant and the recent outbreak, "but our analysis of sampling in that plant is not complete," said Steven Cohen, spokesman for the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service.

Sheetz convenience stores carry no Wampler products, corporate spokeswoman Amy Hanna said. Likewise, Food Lion and Save-A-Lot grocery stores do not carry the recalled meat, corporate spokespeople said Monday.

Popular Hagerstown retailers Penn Avenue Meats and Hoffman's Quality Meats, and such small grocery stores as Harr's Grocery in Big Cove Tannery, Pa., and Kline's Grocery in Shady Grove, Pa., also do not carry Wampler products, employees said.

Barnhart's Supermarket manager Tammy Barnhart said she found none of the recalled product at the Charles Town, W.Va., store when checking shelves early Monday.

Workers at Baer's Grocery in Waynesboro, Pa., Jr.'s Super Market in Berkeley Springs, W.Va., and Pittman's Grocery in Hancock said they had not received Wampler recall notices as of mid-morning Monday.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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