by John Klekamp
That's when more than 80 workers at the Topps Meat Company plant in Elizabeth found out it was over.
The latest victim of the company's suspect beef - was the company itself.
"It was very emotional, of course. Company's been around 65, 67 years."
Single mom Vivian Quinones says employees were informed Saturday morning that Topps was going out of business -- effective immediately.
"It's sad. All of a sudden, nobody is employed," Quinones said.
"Can you say anything sir?"
A usda inspector was at the plant--
"Were they in compliance at all?"
But not talking to reporters.
The agency ordered the company's frozen patties off store shelves last month after people began falling ill - sickened by E. Coli bacteria linked to Topp's Ground beef.
The recall of nearly 22-million-pounds of meat is the second largest in U.S. history - and more than the company could handle.
Anthony D'Urso, Topp's top man put it this way: "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."
"They don't tell us anything!"
"Did you guys hear rumors that this might happen? Absolutely not. Just out of the blue? Yes."
Neighbors watched as workers tried to dodge reporters and camera crews --
"Don't you have anything better to do?"
Some of them all too familiar with their situation.
"So you feel their pain? I know what they're going through. I really do."
The company expressed regret for the impact this is going to have on the workers and the community.
The Chief Operating Officer also said they are praying for the full recovery of those who've fallen ill from eating the tainted beef.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, at least 30 people have been sickened.