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Sun, 26 Mar 2000, 12:06am EST

Sara Lee Recalls 34,500 Pounds of Ball Park Hot Dogs on Listeria Concerns

By Roger Runningen

Philadelphia, March 25 (Bloomberg) -- Sara Lee Corp.'s Ball Park Brand unit recalled 34,500 pounds of hot dogs distributed in 15 states after samples tested positive for the potentially deadly listeria monocytogenes bacteria, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said.

The Chicago-based company, the world's largest maker of packaged meats, recalled one-pound packages of its Ball Park Beef Franks and one-pound packages of Ball Park Franks that are made with beef, pork and turkey. Packages bear the code APR03 EST 12PAB, the department said.

There are no known illnesses, said Carol Blake, a USDA spokeswoman.

``We are working closely with the USDA to get as much information as soon as possible,'' said Theresa Herlevsen, a Sara Lee spokeswoman.

In December 1998, Sara Lee recalled 15 million pounds of hot dogs from a plant in Michigan. The tainted hot dogs were linked to 15 deaths.

Both products in the recall were produced in the company's Philadelphia processing plant, the USDA said, and were packaged Jan. 25.

Hot dogs were distributed to retail stores and commissaries in Florida, Missouri, New York, Virginia, Ohio, Connecticut, Delaware, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, Texas, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Maryland.

The health risk was rated ``high,'' the USDA said. U.S. Army lab tests earlier Friday confirmed the presence of the bacteria.

Listeria monocytogenes can cause listeriosis. Symptoms include high fever, severe headaches, nausea and neck stiffness. The infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths, and can be fatal for those with weakened immune systems, including infants, the elderly or people with chronic diseases.

The recalled was announced after trading closed. Shares in Sara Lee rose 5/8 to 18 5/8.

People with questions can call the company at (800) 556-9700, or the USDA's meat and poultry hotline at (800) 535-4555 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday Eastern time.

USDA food recalls are listed on the Web site.

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