Nearly 50 tons of ground beef recalled due to possible E. coli contamination

Food recalls can be costly for companies

The weekend recall of nearly 100,000 pounds of ground beef possibly tainted with E. coli is the second large meat recall in as many months by JBS USA, a unit of the world's largest meat processor. 

Swift Beef Co. recalled 99.260 pounds of ground beef that many be contaminated with E. coli, a potentially deadly bacteria, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced.

Swift Beef shipped the recalled meat to retail distributors for further processing and food service providers for institutional use in five states, including California, Nevada, Oregon, Utah and Washington, the agency said.

The problem was discovered the previous day after the FSIS found E. coli in the beef of a Swift Beef customer. That led to a recall of roughly 530 pounds of ground beef, patties and meatballs shipped to restaurants across Utah. 

Swift Beef is part of JBS USA, which in early October recalled 6.9 million pounds of beef tied to a 25-state salmonella outbreak that has now stricken 246 people, 59 of whom were hospitalized, the Centers for Disease Control reported last week. 

JBS confirmed the recall in an email to CBS MoneyWatch. A spokesperson said in a statement that "while only one sample in commerce tested positive and no consumers have reported illness, we have taken this cautious approach in the interests of consumer safety."

Why are food recalls on the rise?

JBS is working with the USDA to make sure "potentially impacted product is removed from stores and homes," noted the spokesperson, who declined comment on whether there was any connection between the recalls and whether the company had made any changes as a result.

JBS is a subsidiary of Brazil's JBS SA, the world's largest fresh beef and pork processor.

In September, Cargill recalled more than 132,000 pounds of beef sold nationwide in an E. coli outbreak that killed one person and sickened 17 others.