Saturday, March 15, 2003

Beef that made children ill likely produced here

The Associated Press

SHARONVILLE - Tests on a package of ground beef produced at an American Foods Group plant turned up the same strain of E. coli that infected three Ohio children, a state health official said Friday.

Kristopher Weiss, spokesman for the Ohio Department of Health, said investigators tested an unopened second package of the same ground beef bought by the family of one of the children.

"The genetic fingerprinting has determined that the strain of E. coli in that package was identical to the strain found in the three patients," Weiss said.

Earlier this week, the Green Bay, Wis.-based American Foods Group voluntarily recalled about 106,000 pounds of ground beef sold at Kroger and Meijer stores while the meat was tested. None of the beef, which was produced Jan. 24 at its plant in Sharonville, is now in stores.

The children became ill in the first week of February, all with the same strain of the bacteria, Weiss said. The children included a 7-year-old boy from Butler County, a 2-year-old boy from Crawford County and a 3-year-old girl from Clermont County, Weiss said.

Jeff Agnew, chief of environmental services for the Butler County Health Department, said the boy who became sick there was not hospitalized and is "doing fine." He said there have been no reports of new cases in the county.

The company said the Kroger beef was sold in trays and as hamburger patties from Jan. 25 through Feb. 3. It has code numbers 3024 and 3025 below the store logo. The Meijer brand ground chuck was sold in 1-pound trays and has code number 3024 below the UPC bar code.

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