Michael F. Easley
Governor

The Great Seal of the State of North Carolina Dempsey Benton
Secretary

North Carolina
Department of Health and Human Services

For Release: IMMEDIATE
Date: October 10, 2007

  Contact: Debbie Crane

Two Children Sickened By E-coli Strain Associated With Recent Recall:

Consumers Urged to Check Freezers for Contaminated Beef

RALEIGH – The State Laboratory of Public Health has confirmed that two North Carolina children were infected with E. coli O15:H7 bacterium, which had the same DNA fingerprint as that found in E. coli infections that have been linked to ground beef patties manufactured by Cargill and sold through Sam's Club.  Public health officials say that consumers need to check their freezers to make sure they don’t have any of the contaminated beef, which has been recalled.

“If you have frozen ground beef patties, check to see if they are part of the recall; if they are, then throw them away or return them to the store,” said State Epidemiologist Dr. Jeff Engel (print quality photo of Dr. Engel). “Anytime you cook hamburger, always make sure to cook it until it is no longer pink and the juice runs clear.”

The two children – a 10-year-old from Durham County and a 14-year-old from Orange County attended a cookout on September 15.   Food served at the cookout included grilled hamburgers.  The children experienced bloody diarrhea and abdominal cramps beginning on September 18.  Neither child developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), which is a serious complication that can result from E. coli 0157:H7 infection and both have recovered.  No other cases of E.coli infection associated with the picnic have been diagnosed.

Officials say it is likely that the infections were caused by the now-recalled product, because stool samples from the infected children had the same DNA fingerprint as those found in contaminated beef from other cases associated with the recall.  Although no ground beef from the cookout was available for testing, people who bought the ground beef for the Orange County cookout said that they had purchased the ground beef from the Durham Sam’s Club on September 14.

The Orange County Health Department investigated the incident.  Public health officials note that the onset of E. coli infection occurs within two to 10 days after infection, with most cases showing up within three to five days. No new cases are expected as a result of the ground beef consumed at this cookout.

In addition to checking to see whether consumers have the contaminated product, public health officials say consumers should take precautions to avoid contaminating other foods with any E. coli bacteria that may be present in the meat by:

  • Using soap or dishwashing liquid to wash 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.

On October 6, Cargill recalled 844,812 pounds of frozen ground beef patties after an investigation by Minnesota authorities. The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) found that four cases of illness were caused by E. coli O157:H7 with the same DNA fingerprint. All of those infected had eaten ground beef patties purchased at Sam’s Club stores in the Twin Cities metro area. The brand name of the implicated frozen ground beef patties was “American Chef’s Selection Angus Beef Patties.”  Sam’s Club has pulled American Chef’s Selection Angus Frozen Ground Beef Patties from all of their stores.

The products subject to the recall were produced on Aug. 9, 10, 15, 16 and 17, 2007, and were distributed nationwide. Each package bears the establishment number “Est. 924A” inside the USDA mark of inspection. The products include:

Products distributed via retail and subject to recall are:

  • 6-pound boxes of “American Chef's Selection Angus Beef Patties 18-1/3 Pound Patties.” Each package bears a case code of “7703100” and various package codes of Best If Used By dates of “02/05/08,” “02/06/08,” “02/12/08,” and “02/13/08.”

Products distributed to restaurants and institutions and subject to recall include:

  • 20-pound boxes of “Grille Works Seasoned Sirloin Steak Beef Patties.” Each package bears a case code of “7700296” and a package code “packed/chilled by 08/15/07.”
  • 20-pound boxes of “TNT™ Thick ‘n Tender Beef Patties with Seasoning.” Each package bears a case code of “7703003” and a package code “packed/chilled by 08/15/07.”
  • 20-pound boxes of “TNT Thick ‘n Tender Beef Patties with Seasoning.” Each package bears a case code of “7703008” and a package code “packed/chilled by 08/15/07.”
  • 10-pound boxes of “TNT Thick ‘n Tender Beef Patties with Seasoning.” Each package bears a case code of “7703092” and a package code “packed/chilled by 08/15/07.”
  • 20-pound boxes of “TNT Thick ‘n Tender Black Angus Beef Patties with Seasoning.” Each package bears a case code of “7703132” and a package code “packed/chilled by 08/15/07.”
  • 20-pound boxes of “TNT Thick ‘n Tender Black Angus Beef Patties with Seasoning.” Each package bears a case code of “7703133” and a package code “packed/chilled by 08/15/07.”
  • 10-pound boxes of “TNT Thick ‘n Tender Black Angus Beef Patties with Seasoning.” Each package bears a case code of “7703139” and a package code “packed/chilled by 08/15/07.”
  • 20-pound boxes of “TNT Thick ‘n Tender Black Angus Ground Beef Patties.” Each package bears a case code of “7700922” and a package code “packed/chilled by 08/15/07.”
  • 32.4-pound boxes of “100% Black Angus Ground Beef Patties.” Each package bears a case code of “7700932” and a package code “packed/chilled by 08/15/07.”
  • 36.0-pound boxes of “100% Black Angus Ground Beef Patties.” Each package bears a case code of “7700983” and a package code “packed/chilled by 08/15/07.”

Symptoms of E. coli O157:H7 illness include stomach cramps, which can be severe, and diarrhea. Diarrhea begins as loose, watery stools, with stools often turning bloody within 1-3 days. E. coli O157:H7 disease sometimes leads to HUS, which can include kidney failure. People typically become ill two to five days after eating contaminated food. E. coli infection should not be treated with antibiotics, which can cause additional complications.

People who have developed those symptoms after consuming this product should contact their physician.

Consumers with questions about the recall should contact the company’s food safety line at 866-567-7899. Media with questions should contact the company’s media representative, Mark Klein, at 952-742-6211.


 

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Public Affairs Office
101 Blair Drive, Raleigh, NC 27603
(919)733-9190
FAX (919)733-7447

Debbie Crane
Director