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Yesterday General Mills Operations located in Minnesota issued a voluntary recall of 5 million frozen pizzas due to the risk that they could be contaminated with E. coli. The recall affects about 414,000 cases of pizza products. Many of these products may already be in consumers’ freezers and pose a serious health risk. There have been 21 confirmed cases of E. coli spread across the entire nation between July 20 and October 10. Nine of the 21 confirmed cases reported to have eaten Tontino’s or Jeno’s brand pizza with pepperoni topping before the onset of the illness.

The company has shipped more than 120 million pizzas since July 1, so the 21 confirmed cases could be just the tip of the iceberg. E. Coli is a potentially life-threatening bacterium that is characterized commonly by 2 to 5 days of illness accompanied by stomach cramps and often bloody diarrhea. Kidney failure can also be associated with the infection.

“We took action on that basis as a precaution, because of the possibility that a link might exist,” said General Mills spokesman Tom Forsythe. “However, to date we have found no E. coli in our plant, and we have found no E. coli in our products.”

The packages that are labeled with “est. 7750” and “best if used by” date of “02 Apr 08” is a common element of all eight different products. The USDA has issued a Class I recall in this matter and consumers are urged to dispose of recalled items immediately. Questions about the recall can be addressed by calling the Consumer Hotline at 1-800-949-9055.

For more information on this subject, please refer to the section on Defective and Dangerous Products.

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