Minneapolis Cargill Inc. is voluntarily recalling more than 840,000 pounds of ground beef patties distributed at Sam's Club stores nationwide after four Minnesota children who ate the food developed E. coli illness, a Cargill official said Saturday.
The Sam's Club warehouse chain, which sold the burgers that sickened the children, had previously pulled the same brand of ground beef patties from its shelves nationwide.
The children became ill between Sept. 10 and Sept. 20 after eating ground beef bought frozen under the name American Chef's Selection Angus Beef Patties from three Sam's Club stores in the Twin Cities area.
Two of the children were hospitalized; one remains in the hospital and the other has been discharged, the state Health Department said.
Cargill is voluntarily recalling nearly 845,000 pounds of frozen ground beef patties that were produced on Aug. 9, 10, 15, 16 and 17, Cargill spokesman Mark Klein said. Each package bears the establishment number "Est.924A" inside the USDA mark of inspection.
Most of the recalled products were the American Chef's Selection Angus Beef Patties packaged in 6-pound boxes containing 18 patties of one-third pound each, Cargill said. Each package bears a case code of 7703100 and "Best If Used By" dates of Feb. 5, 6, 12 and 13, 2008.
Although the extent of contamination is not known, Cargill is recalling the products as a precaution, said Bill Rupp, president of Cargill Meat Solutions.
Cargill has been cooperating with the state Department of Health and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to determine the scope of the issue, Klein said.
Cargill learned of the issue Friday, when a compliance officer from the federal Agriculture Department visited the company's ground beef facility in Butler, Wis., Klein said. Officials had traced the patties to that plant.