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N.H. resident dies after eating meat infected with E. coli

By Michael Corcoran
Globe Correspondent / November 2, 2009

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The death of an unidentified person from New Hampshire who had consumed meat infected with E. coli bacteria has escalated concerns about such contamination after schoolchildren and adults from Rhode Island were sickened at a camp in Plymouth, Mass., last month.

The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services announced the death on Saturday, but did not release information on the victim. It was the first reported death associated with a recall of more than 500,000 pounds of contaminated ground beef from Fairbanks Farms of Ashville, N.Y. Two other New Hampshire residents became ill due to E. coli, state health officials said.

In a similar but unrelated case last week, South Shore Meats Co. of Brockton also had a voluntary beef recall after more than 20 Rhode Island schoolchildren and adults became ill after a mid-October visit to Camp Bournedale in Plymouth. Ground beef obtained from the camp tested positive for E. coli.

“It is just a coincidence that there are two outbreaks,’’ said Atiya Khan, a spokeswoman for the US Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Services department.

Calls to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health today were not returned.

The recalls affect purchases made from large chain grocers.

The contaminated beef products were produced in mid-September, so the concerns are largely over meat that might be stored in freezers.

Fairbanks Farms is advising customers to check their freezers to see if they have any products that may be infected with the bacteria.

People with questions about a product can call the Fairbank Farms hotline with the number on the wrapper at 1-877-546-0122.