The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is out tonight with a Class 1, High Health Risk recall of ground beef products sold by the Ohio-based Kroger grocery store chain.

The ground beef products may be contaminated with E. coli O157:H7 and are already implicated in a Michigan/Ohio outbreak involving more than 30 cases.

All varieties and weights of ground beef products bearing a Kroger label sold between May 21 and June 8 at Michigan and Columbus and Toledo, Ohio Kroger retail establishments are subjects of the recall. These ground beef products also include a sell-by date between "05/21/08" and "06/08/08."

According to FSIS:

These products were distributed to Kroger stores in Michigan and Columbus and Toledo, Ohio. FSIS has confirmed that none of the affected products remain available for purchase at stores; however consumers are urged to check their refrigerators and freezers and discard or return the ground beef products for a refund.

This recall was initiated after epidemiological investigations and a case control study conducted by the Michigan and Ohio Departments of Agriculture and Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention determined that there is an association between the ground beef products and 32 illnesses reported in Michigan (15) and Ohio (17).

The illnesses were linked through the epidemiological investigation by their pulsed field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) pattern, or DNA fingerprint, found in PulseNet, a database maintained by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Anyone with signs or symptoms of foodborne illness should consult a medical professional.

It is worth noting, the FSIS press release says nothing about beef  suppliers for Kroger’s.  The chain does operate 41 of its own food processing plants to help supply its 2,474 stores in 31 states. In addition to Kroger, its runs Ralphs, Fred Meyer, Food 4 Less, King Soopers, Smith’s Dillons, QFC and City Market.