HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The company whose packaged ground beef was recalled because of suspected E. coli contamination has taken strict measures to protect the public.
Higa Foodservice recalled 4,100 pounds of processed meat that went out last Wednesday. The USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service determined the beef contained the bacteria.
"Currently, I have about four pallets of ground beef that came back. We still have to go through and scale it to get the weight, This is a deep concern for us and we're doing all we can to get all that hamburger back," Higa's VP of operations Sheldon Wright said.
The beef was sold to 25 businesses, mostly fast-food restaurants that have been Higa's longtime customers. The company's confident their cooking processes killed the bacteria.
"They know what they're doing, and they know that they're not going to serve ground beef partly raw. They're going to make sure it's fully cooked," Wright said.
Four public schools also got the meat: Lunalilo Elementary, Kipapa Elementary, Lehua Elementary and Honowai Elementary.
"This hamburger in question was used in a spaghetti product. So the ground beef was cooked at a very extremely high temperature that would have killed any bacteria had it been in that batch," said Peter Oshiro, Department of Health Environmental Health Program Manager.
Oshiro said E. coli's symptoms are excessive diarrhea, slight fever and abdominal pain. He said if you have them see a doctor.
Besides the beef shipped on Wednesday, Higa recalled another 4,100 pounds from the day after, even though it wasn't mandated by USDA.
"We've never had this problem in the past," Wright said. "We certainly don't want anybody getting sick from eating meat from Higa Foodservice.
The company doesn't know how the bacteria got in the meat. The USDA inspects its plant daily. Higa has never been cited for E. coli contamination in its ground beef in the 69 years it's been in business. It hopes the recall doesn't taint its reputation.