West Metro / Tainted beef traced to Windom

US - E. coli investigators zeroed in on a Windom, Minn., beefpacking plant Wednesday as they probed an outbreak that has sickened seven Twin Cities residents who ate ground beef purchased at Lunds and Byerly's.
calendar icon 10 May 2007
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The PM Beef Holdings plant supplied the ground beef sold at those Twin Cities supermarkets, officials said. Because the Windom plant ships meat to multiple states and is inspected by federal employees, the U.S. Department of Agriculture formally took over the investigation Wednesday.

"What they're trying to do right now is figure out the date bracket of when the contaminated product moved through the facility, when the contamination occurred, and into what other products" might be contaminated, said Dr. Heidi Kassenborg, acting director of the Minnesota Department of Agriculture's inspection unit.

Seven west metro residents have been confirmed ill, and three were hospitalized. All had purchased and eaten ground beef from stores in St. Louis Park, Minnetonka, Chanhassen or Edina.

Because each of those supermarkets grinds its own hamburger, "it's unlikely that four stores would have problems independently, and that's why it points to the plant," said Margaret Hart, a spokeswoman with the Minnesota Department of Agriculture.

Plant officials declined to comment.

No new illnesses linked to E. coli 0157:H7 were reported Wednesday, nor were any additional supermarket recalls announced. Still, the state health department was hit with a wave of calls from concerned citizens, and the Windom plant's multi-state territory presents a potential for wider warnings.

"They don't produce (beef) exclusively for Lunds and Byerly's," Kassenborg said. "We don't know if the contaminated product went to those (other) stores as well."

Source: TwinCities.com

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