Three recalls and a warning

FRESNO, CA The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service says Fresno-based Beef Packers Inc. is pulling about 22,723 pounds of ground beef that may be linked to salmonellosis.

The products were produced Sept. 23 and bear the establishment number "EST. 31913" printed on case code labels. Because the beef was sent to a distribution center in Arizona, officials say consumers should check with local retailers to determine whether they may have purchased any of the recalled beef.

Food safety officials say the ground beef has been linked to two illnesses.

Beef Packers spokesman Mark Klein says the company initiated the recall voluntarily and is "taking the matter seriously


AUSTIN, Texas (AP) -- State officials have recalled all oysters harvested from San Antonio Bay on the Texas coast after people in two other states were sickened by norovirus after consuming them.

Oysters harvested in the bay between Nov. 16 and 25 are included in the recall, the Texas Department of State Health Services said. Consumers should dispose of them.

The Texas agency received reports that about a dozen people in North Carolina and South Carolina have gotten sick with norovirus after consuming the oysters. State health officials in those states, with assistance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, are investigating.

Noroviruses are a group of viruses that cause gastroenteritis. Norovirus typically is not life threatening and does not generally cause long-term effects. There have been no reports of sickness in Texas due to the oysters.


ENGLEWOOD CLIFFS, N.J. -- All canned Slim-Fast drinks have been recalled by Unilever PLC's U.S. subsidiary because of the possibility of bacterial contamination that could cause diarrhea, nausea and vomiting. The company says the probability of serious health problems is remote. The products were sold nationwide. They came in cartons of 4, 6 or 12 steel cans, 11 ounces in size, and were also sold individually. The recall was issued Thursday. The company said it had halted production and was trying to find what caused the contamination.


ST. LOUIS (AP) -- A consumer group contends one of the holiday season's must-have toys is unsafe. But the maker of the robotic Zhu Zhu Pets hamsters defended its product Saturday against a study by San Francisco-based GoodGuide that said higher-than-allowed levels of the chemical antimony were found in the toy.

Good Guide named Zhu Zhu Pets hamsters one of the top-selling toys with low ratings after finding antimony, which can cause health problems, on the hair and nose of one of the toy hamsters, called Mr. Squiggles.

The group assigned the toy, aimed at 3- to 10-year-olds, a rating of 5.2 on a 10-point scale.

But the toy's maker, St. Louis-based Cepia LLC, insisted in a statement that its product is safe and has passed rigorous testing. The company said it was contacting GoodGuide to share its testing data and determine how the report was founded.

"I have been in the toy industry for more than 35 years, and being a father of children myself, I would never allow any substandard or unsafe product to hit the shelves," Russ Hornsby, Cepia's CEO, said in the statement.

Zhu Zhu Pets, which retail for about $10, have become this season's toy craze, following in the footsteps of Tickle Me Elmo and Cabbage Patch Kids. The items fetch $40 or more on resale Web sites like eBay and Craigslist.

That's what brought it to GoodGuide's attention. GoodGuide CEO Dara O'Rourke told The Associated Press on Saturday that his group bought three of each of the year's 30 hottest toys and tested them multiple times.

Antimony was measured at 93 parts per million in the hamster's fur and at 106 parts per million in its nose. Both readings exceed the allowable level of 60 parts per million, said O'Rourke, an associate professor of environmental science at the University of California, Berkeley.

O'Rourke said GoodGuide's test results, released Friday, also indicated the possibility that some toys contained phthalates, chemicals that were subject to tougher standards in the Consumer Protection Safety Improvement Act passed last year.

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