NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — In the months before issuing a massive recall of its frozen hamburgers, Topps Meat Co. curtailed testing of ground beef and skipped other safeguards aimed at preventing contaminated meat from reaching consumers, according to a published report Tuesday.

Three batches of frozen patties tainted with a potentially fatal bacteria left the company's plant in Elizabeth, according to unnamed federal regulators cited by The New York Times.

To date, 40 people in eight states were sickened with E. coli infections linked to the Topps burgers.