The number of illnesses tied to tainted Lebanon bologna products has grown to 14 cases across five states. Palmyra Bologna Co. Inc. recalled 23,000 pounds of bologna products on March 22 after four illnesses were reported.

So far, there have been illnesses reported in Maryland (3 cases), New Jersey (2 cases), North Carolina (1 case), Ohio (2 cases) and Pennsylvania (6 cases). The bologna was sold under the brand name Seltzer’s Beef Lebanon Bologna.

“As a third-generation, family-owned business, nothing is more important to us than our loyal customers who have helped us stay in business for over 100 years,” said Craig Seltzer, president of Seltzer’s Lebanon Bologna. “So even though none of our bologna tested positive for pathogens and we believe most of the bologna from those lots was consumed weeks or months ago, I thought it was important to take this action and initiate a voluntary recall. If you are concerned that you may have some of the product in question, please return it to the retail location where it was purchased for a full refund. No receipt is necessary.”

Seltzer added that food safety is his number one priority, stating, “That’s why we test our food contact surfaces weekly for bacteria indicators. In addition to our weekly swab tests, we also test finished Lebanon Bologna products for E. coli, Salmonella and Listeria every month. The government does not require us to test at all. We made a decision a long time ago to test at least once a month to meet our own demanding standards. If there is a problem with our process, we want to know about it first.”

As part of its regular reporting to FSIS, Seltzer’s reported that its Lebanon Bologna products and food contact surfaces were tested the weeks and months before, during and after the production of the product in question, and no trace of E. coli contamination or other pathogens were found in the finished product.

Food safety attorney Bill Marler noted in a release that meat used in the production of Lebanon bologna is not heat-treated to temperatures that would kill foodborne pathogens like E. coli, therefore the manufacturer must follow a series of procedures to ensure the safety of the meat.

E. coli infections are completely preventable when food producers make food safety first priority,” Marler added. “Palmyra chooses to make a riskier product when it manufactures Lebanon bologna. It is the company’s responsibility to account for and deal with risks like E. coli before the product is put in the hands of paying customers.”

Sources: Palmyra Bologna Co. Inc., Marler Clark