CHICAGO -- Sara Lee Corporation, based here, has suspended manufacturing operations at its Bil Mar Foods facility in Zeeland, Mich., after federal investigators indicated the possibility that products made there are the source of a Listeria outbreak.
There has not yet been any confirmation that the plant is actually the source of the problem, which has sickened at least 40 people and killed four others in 10 states. However, the plant was closed -- and a voluntary recall launched -- after a meeting between company officials and representatives of the Centers for Disease Control, Atlanta, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Washington.
"Because consumer safety is our number one priority, we felt that voluntarily recalling these products was the most prudent measure we could take at this time," said Jeffrey Smith, Sara Lee spokesman. "We are working hand-in-hand with government agencies."
The products affected by the recall include regional and national brands of hot dogs and deli meats, such as Ball Park, Bil Mar, Bryan (Bunsize and 3-pound Club Packs), Grillmaster, Hygrade, Mr. Turkey, Sara Lee Deli Meat and Sara Lee Roast brands. All of the affected products carry one of two establishment numbers: P261 (for poultry) and 6911 (for non-poultry).
Consumers have been advised to return products with the establishment numbers in question to their stores for a full refund.