A beef recall in Canada has led the Seattle branch of a major food distributor to recall 16,800 pounds of ground-beef patties that may be contaminated with dangerous bacteria. The distributor sold the beef to a single customer, which operates restaurants in Washington, Colorado, Arizona and Texas.

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A massive beef recall in Canada has crossed the border, leading the Seattle branch of a major food distributor to recall 16,800 pounds of ground-beef patties that may be contaminated with dangerous bacteria.

None of the beef was sold in groceries, said Charley Wilson, spokesman for Sysco, the largest food-service distributor in the U.S.

Sysco’s Seattle branch bought the beef from New Food Classics, the Ontario-based processor at the center of a recall that now extends to more than 135 meat products across Canada. Sysco, in turn, sold the beef to a single customer, which operates restaurants in Washington, Colorado, Arizona and Texas.

Wilson would not identify the restaurants. He said Sunday that Sysco is working with its customer to identify and destroy the potentially tainted beef. Wilson added that he isn’t sure whether any of the meat made it onto menus before the recall was initiated.

He also couldn’t say how much of the meat has been recovered.

“We know exactly where the meat is,” Wilson said. “We know the time frames. It’s just a matter of it being tracked down.”

The Canadian recalls were launched mid-February, after a person in Alberta fell ill from E. coli O157:H7, the potentially fatal bacteria behind many high-profile food-poisoning outbreaks.

Victims can experience abdominal pain and bloody diarrhea, with severe cases causing seizures, kidney failure and even death. Children, older adults and people with weakened immune systems are most vulnerable.

To protect against infection, the U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends cooking ground beef to an internal temperature of 160 degrees F, and washing your hands and any surfaces that come in contact with meat.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency tracked the contamination to New Food Classics’ processing plant in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Canadian media report that the company has since gone into bankruptcy.

A 2007 audit of the plant by the USDA, which licenses foreign companies to sell meat in the United States, found several instances of poor sanitation, including equipment clogged with day-old bits of meat and fat.

The products Sysco is recalling are:

… 10-pound boxes of “Prime Rib Beef Patties,” 8 ounces, with product code 55317 and production code 11 NO 22.

… 10-pound boxes of “Prime Rib Beef Patties,” 71 grams, with product code 55391 and production code 11 SE 01 or 12 JA 04.

For more information on the Sysco recall, contact Susan Linn, 832-489-1799.

Sandi Doughton: 206-464-2491 or sdoughton@seattletimes.com