Ken Belson & Kareem FahimTopps Meat Company, one of the country’s largest manufacturers of frozen hamburgers, announced it was going out of business after it recalled more than 21.7 million pounds of ground beef products last month.
Anthony D’Urso, the chief operating officer at Topps, said the company was unable to withstand the financial burden of the recall.
“This is tragic for all concerned,” Mr. D’Urso said in a statement. “In one week we have gone from the largest U.S. manufacturer of frozen hamburgers to a company that cannot overcome the economic reality of a recall this large.”
The company opened its doors in 1940 and was bought in 2003 by Strategic Investment and Holdings, an investment firm in Buffalo. Topps made branded frozen hamburgers and other meat products for supermarkets and mass merchandisers.
On Sept. 25, the United States Department of Agriculture announced a recall of frozen hamburger patties from Topps, saying that the meat was potentially tainted by E. coli bacteria. Officials at the agency conceded that they knew that meat from Topps was contaminated on Sept. 7, when the first positive test results for E. coli came back.
Health officials say the first reported case of sickness linked to the 0157:H7 strain of E. coli found in the Topps meat occurred on July 5, when an 18-year-old girl in central Pennsylvania fell ill. Three days later, another case was reported in New Jersey. Other cases have been reported in Connecticut, Maine, Florida, Indiana, Ohio and New York.