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E. Coli Cases Linked To Ground Beef Purchased At Lunds Or Byerly's Stores Since Mid-April

Armen Hareyan's picture

State health and agriculture officials are investigating seven cases of E. coli O157:H7 infection in Minnesota residents associated with eating ground beef purchased from Lunds or Byerly's stores since mid-April.

Routine monitoring by the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) found that the cases of illness were all caused by E. coli O157:H7 with the same DNA fingerprint. All of the cases had purchased the ground beef from one of four Lunds or Byerly's stores in the west metro area since April 12. The people became ill between April 21 and 28 after consuming the meat.

The cases include two children and five adults. Three of the cases were hospitalized, but all have been discharged.

"The stores currently involved include Byerly's St. Louis Park, Byerly's Minnetonka, Byerly's Chanhassen and Lunds Edina. However, we can't be certain that meat from other stores is not involved, since all of the beef used for ground beef for Lunds and Byerly's stores comes from a single processing facility," said Heidi Kassenborg, Acting Director of the Dairy and Food Inspection Division of the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA).

Ground beef that was purchased after April 7 from a Lunds or Byerly's store, whether still in the refrigerator or freezer, should not be used, but should be discarded or returned to the store, officials said.

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"Thorough cooking kills E. coli bacteria. However, we know that some of this meat was contaminated so it is safer to eliminate the risk altogether by recommending that people not consume the meat," said Kirk Smith, Supervisor of the Foodborne Ilness Unit with MDH.

As a precautionary measure, Lunds and Byerly's have voluntarily removed many varieties of ground beef from all of their stores and are cooperating fully with the investigation.

Lunds and Byerly's customers are urged to return or destroy fresh ground beef purchased at any of their stores since April 7, 2007. This includes ground beef purchased fresh then frozen at home. It includes fresh beef patties, fresh or frozen meatloaf and ground chili meat. Customers should return the ground beef to any Lunds or Byerly's immediately for a full refund. (A receipt is not required.)

Organic fresh ground beef, frozen beef patties, beef purchased in the Lunds or Byerly's deli and beef sold in Lunds or Byerly's restaurants is not affected.

Officials are concerned that this product is still in consumers' homes as more people are purchasing meat for the outdoor grilling season.

Food safety experts recommend cooking any ground beef 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: