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MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. -- State health and agriculture officials are investigating five cases of E. coli O157:H7 infection in four Minnesota residents and a Wisconsin resident that are connected with frozen ground sirloin patties purchased from Sams Club stores and manufactured by Carneco Foods of Columbus, Neb.
All of the cases were caused by E. coli O157:H7 with the same genetic fingerprint. The Minnesota residents purchased sirloin patties since the beginning of July at the Sams Club in White Bear Lake and the Sams Club in Eagan. The Wisconsin resident purchased sirloin patties at a Sams Club in Waukesha.
Officials from the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) and the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) are advising consumers not to eat frozen sirloin patties sold under the label Northern Plains with the lot number 17304-CAR2 with a Best Used By date of 12/18/04. The implicated meat is being pulled from all Sams Club store shelves. It is possible that this product has been sold by other Minnesota retailers.
Officials said they do not know whether any additional E. coli illnesses may be linked to the same product. MDA is working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to pinpoint the source of the contamination, identify other potentially contaminated lots, and determine if other stores may have received the product. Sams Club is cooperating with the investigation and handling all refunds.
The four Minnesota cases became ill July 10-24, 2004. Three cases were adult and one was a child. One adult case was hospitalized; all four cases have recovered.
Because ground beef generally is more likely to contain E. coli than other cuts of meat, MDH officials say its important that consumers follow standard public health recommendations for preparing and handling ground beef. It should be cooked thoroughly before eating to an internal temperature of 160 degrees F., or until the meat is no longer pink and the juices run clear. Also, avoid contaminating other foods with any E. coli bacteria that may be present in the meat by:
-- Washing hands, utensils, and cutting boards after they have been in contact with raw meat before they touch other food.
-- Putting cooked meat on a clean platter, rather than on the one that was used to hold raw meat.
These recommendations are particularly important this time of the year, which is peak grilling season. Purchasing irradiated beef is another measure consumers can take to protect themselves.
Symptoms of E. coli illness include stomach cramps and diarrhea. Bloody diarrhea may develop. E. coli disease sometimes leads to a serious complication called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), which can cause kidney failure. People typically become ill two to five days after eating contaminated food. E. coli disease should not be treated with antibiotics, which can cause additional complications.
Source: Minnesota Department of Health