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E. coli infection hospitalizes staten island girl



TRENTON, N.J. -- As concern mounts over the recall of some 21 million pounds of contaminated ground beef, it now appears that a Staten Island girl may be a victim.

A 12-year-old Great Kills girl has been hospitalized for E.coli poisoning, and her parents say she got sick after eating hamburger meat made from the Topps Meat Company.

In fact, her mother, father, and sister all had hamburgers from Topps and got sick, though the 12-year-old, identified as Brianna DiMartini, saw her condition worsen.

DiMartini is currently being treated at the pediatric intensive care unit of the Staten Island University Hospital. The city's health department is investigating the matter.

On Monday morning, Dr. Richard Raymond, an the undersecretary of food safety for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, spoke about the crisis on the CBS Early Show:

"I think the American meat supply is the safest in the world,"

Raymond said. "A recall like this does show that we are on the job, we are doing our inspections, our investigation, and we respond when we find problems to make sure that supply is safe."

Despite Raymond's assurance, The New York City Health Department urged residents on Monday to throw away any Topps ground beef as a precaution.

Raymond urged consumers to take precautions when handling raw meat at home, including: wash hands when handling raw meat products, use a separate cutting board to prepare meats, cook ground meat to 160 degrees Fahrenheit and use a food thermometer to verify the temperature.

People should also check their freezers to make sure they do not have any of the recalled beef, Raymond said.

The Agriculture Department on Friday suspended the grinding of raw products at the Topps plant in Elizabeth, N.J. after inspectors found inadequate safety measures there.

The recall represents all Topps products with either a "sell by date" or a "best if used by date" between Sept. 25 this year and Sept. 25, 2008. The Elizabeth-based company said this information is found on a package's back panel. All recalled products also have a USDA establishment number of EST 9748, which is located on the back panel of the package and-or in the USDA legend.

E.coli bacteria can cause severe stomach cramps, bloody diarrhea, dehydration and, in the worst instances, kidney failure.

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