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E. coli cases traced to Twin Cities grocery stores

Associated Press

ST. PAUL — State health officials are investigating seven cases of E. coli infection in Minnesotans who ate ground beef purchased at Lunds or Byerly’s grocery stores.

Routine monitoring by the Health Department found the illnesses were all caused by E. coli 0157:H7 bacteria with the same DNA fingerprint. All involved ground beef purchased from one of four Lunds or Byerly’s stores in the western Twin Cities metro area since April 12.

The Byerly’s stores are in St. Louis Park, Minnetonka and Chanhassen, and the Lunds is in Edina.

Five adults and two children became ill between April 21 and 28. Three were hospitalized, but all have since been discharged.

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State agriculture officials said the stores bought their ground beef from PM Beef-Windom, a meatpacker in southwestern Minnesota, and then ground the meat at individual stores. PM Beef did not return several phone messages left Wednesday by the Associated Press .

PM Beef-Windom is authorized to sell meat outside Minnesota, but it wasn’t clear on Wednesday whether beef sold elsewhere was contaminated, said Minnesota Department of Agriculture spokeswoman Margaret Hart. She said testing of leftover meat at the homes of some of those who became ill showed that it was contaminated.

Health department spokesman Doug Schultz said no new illnesses were reported Wednesday.

Lund Food Holdings, the parent of Lunds and Byerly’s stores, uses a single processing facility for its ground beef, so it’s possible that contaminated meat went to some of its other stores, the state Agriculture Department said. Health officials said any ground beef purchased after April 7 from a Lunds or Byerly’s should be discarded or returned to the store.

In 2003, PM Beef recalled 1,126 pounds of beef trim because it might have been contaminated with E. coli. That product had been sent to wholesalers in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa and Illinois, where it was processed into ground beef.

Symptoms of E. coli include stomach cramps that may be severe and diarrhea that may turn bloody within one to three days. E. coli can sometimes lead to complications including kidney failure.

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